Work for justice, pray for peace


On the surface, these headline-makers seem unrelated: escalation of conflict in the Holy Land, politicians butting heads over unaccompanied Central American children crossing the U.S. border, a passenger aircraft downed over the Ukraine. Yet all three bear sad similarities. They were fueled by hatred, claimed the lives of children and adults, and could have been prevented. The world we live in has become bereft of peace because we have lost a sense of respect for one another.
Pope Paul VI observed in his 1972 Day of Peace message: “A Peace that is not the result of true respect for man is not true Peace. And what do we call this sincere feeling for man? We call it Justice.”

If you want peace, work for justice.

Six weeks ago Pope Francis brought together the Israeli and Palestinian presidents at the Vatican to pray for peace. On July 18,with violence escalating in the Holy Land, the pope telephoned both men urging them to ensure that all interested parties and those with political responsibilities strive to foster a truce, peace and a reconciliation of heart. The pope calls for persistent prayer, which he said prevents us from being defeated by evil or resigning ourselves to violence.
Both sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict argue that the other doesn’t want peace; they have become consumed by vengeance, employing lethal weapons that maim, kill and destroy in a futile attempt to end the conflict. Both sides embrace their sense of victimhood. What does either side gain from that? Violence begets violence. “This needs to stop on both sides,” said Father Raed Abusahlia, director of Caritas Jerusalem.

If you want peace, work for justice.


The number of unaccompanied Central American children seeking entry to the U.S. has been mounting for more than two years. News sources say that since last fall, more than 50,000 have crossed the U.S. border with Mexico. Assessing conditions in Central America last year, a delegation sent by the U.S. bishops found conditions of extreme poverty and violence, fueled in part by drug cartels whose products feed U.S. addictions. Certainly, our government has an obligation to work to improve conditions in Central America. But how can we — as parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, sisters and brothers — turn our backs on children who simply want to live to be adults, when that might not be possible in their homeland?
Like it or not we live in a global village, and what happens in that village is a responsibility we share as children of the same God who calls us to mercy, compassion and love. Remember how Jesus answered the Pharisee’s question about the greatest commandment? The first and greatest is the love of God. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Matt. 22:34-40). Love of neighbor is not holding up placards and shouting angrily at women and children on a bus, telling them to go home. Love of neighbor is not sending children back to a homeland to be murdered. Love of neighbor requires that we ensure basic needs are met.

If you want peace, work for justice.

The 298 passengers and crew members of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17, downed on July 17 in Ukraine, appear to be victims of the growing tensions between Ukraine, Ukrainian separatists and Russia. Pope Francis raised prayers for the victims and their relatives and “renews his heartfelt appeal to all parties in the conflict to seek peace and solutions through dialogue, in order to avoid further loss of innocent human lives,” a Vatican statement said. The quest to be right, to conquer, to own, the focus on self-interest has once again caused a divided people to lose sight of the respect required to bring about justice, and therefore peace. Let us work for justice, while praying for peace.

Barb Arland-Fye

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