“Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen” (Prayer attributed to St. Francis, BCP pg 833)
The very week that churches were celebrating St. Francis, we watched in grave horror and sickened stomachs as violence, death, and unspeakable atrocities were committed against our brothers and sisters—our children and our neighbors, in the Holy Land. More appalling still is the reality that these atrocities, this violence and murder, against our brothers and sisters was committed by our brothers and sisters—our neighbors.
I understand that sin cannot be rated on a scale. In Baptism I renounced all the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God, all the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God, and all sinful desires that draw me from the love of God. Nevertheless, as the news flooded in, the images more gruesome, the descriptions more disturbing, I wanted to say that surely this was the worst of human sin; surely this was the face of evil.
All sin is a temptation to sin. The sinful violence, cruelty, destruction and murder of terrorism—of war, tempts us to see the face of evil in the face of the other—and everyone who looks like the other. Brother, sister, no longer neighbor, but the face of evil and our enemy. And we are temped to meet the sin of terrorism with equal if not greater violence—to remove it from the face of the earth by removing the faces—all the faces of our enemy.
Sin will not be the solution to the crisis in Israel and Gaza. Nor will it be the solution to the war in Ukraine—or any conflict between human beings. It is beyond me and my calling to know the political path to peace and justice in these conflicts–and there must be a political path to peace and justice. I do know, however, that peace and justice are only possible through prayer. Let us pray for peace and justice. Let us be instruments of peace, turning to God—to Jesus, accepting his saving grace, trusting his love, obeying his higher calling to love neighbor as self, and following his path of peace and justice.
“O God, the Father of all, whose Son commanded us to love our enemies: Lead them and us from prejudice to truth; deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” (BCP pg 816)