Image Credit © Mazur/cbcew.org.uk
Return to God
STORY BY DAVID BOYLE
Each day we see a humanitarian crisis unfold in Europe, yet it has been heartening to witness the seeds of goodness within the darkness of despair; mothers and their babies being provided with food and shelter or strangers offering transportation to safer lands. Anyone who watches events on television can't fail to be horrified or saddened by what they see. Our initial response can be to feel helpless and worried, hoping some human action will suddenly improve the situation but we cannot force such outcomes. This story (as part of St James's News) reflects upon how our everyday prayer and beatitude can impact the lives of all those who suffer at the hands of injustice.There is one Gospel account in Mark 9:14-25 that describes the boy who has an evil spirit. In the account, the boy's father has already pleaded with the disciples to heal his son, but they have been unable to help him. The father perhaps lacks trust in God when he uses the words, "if you can do anything"? Jesus responds by telling the father that "Everything is possible to him that believes". Our Lord heals the boy, cautioning: "This kind can come out only by prayer".
While we watch terrible atrocities unfold on the internet, television news and social media, we also witness so much human endeavour, negotiation and intellect at the core of diplomatic and peaceful solutions, but we rarely see prayer presented as the solution or as the deterrent of violence.
In her messages to the Fatima children (during 1917) Our Blessed Lady (Mary Mother of God) encouraged Francisco, Jacinta, and Lucia to begin praying the Holy Rosary each day for an end to (what was then) the first world war. She also asked these children to pray for the conversion of the world indicating that each one of us has a crucial role to play in establishing peace within human hearts. Mary encourages us to return to the commandments of God and to live them out with the help of her Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. The fruit of such a return is global conversion and an opening of the closed door in William Holman Hunt's painting 'The Light of the World', allowing Christ to enter into our hearts and to establish reconciliation with God.
In His public ministry, Jesus spoke of His desire for peace, especially peace in our hearts and minds. In John 14:27, Our Lord spoke about peace that only He could give. In these troubling days it is good to remind ourselves that peace can exist even within a world of strife and violence. This peace does not necessarily banish conflict, but it provides a context for survival. We know that Jesus is the prince of peace and that His Kingship thrives upon restoring humanity to its original state of grace. His Kingdom of eternal life is perfect peace. Jesus wishes us to have reassurance, as He wished for His disciples to remain calm in the upper room, preparing them for what would happen at His Passion. Jesus sought out peace of mind and heart for His disciples. He wishes the same for us during these difficult days.
When Our Lord began His public ministry, His understanding of life appeared completely radical to the world. In our present day, the meek are neither valued nor respected. Ideological power and brute force appear the only tools of stability. Our world does not exult the humble, but the aggressive. Our Lord wished to correct this warlike attitude. "But I say to you not to resist evil: but if one strikes you on your right cheek, turn to him also the other...do good to them that hate you and pray for them that persecute you" (Matthew 5:39). Warlike violence says that meekness is weakness, but this ideology fails to grasp what Christian meekness really means. Meekness is not running away from trouble or being cowardice but being guided by what is righteous. Violence begins when ego is attacked, self-love is wounded, and pride is humbled. Selfishness lies at the heart of all war when the capitalist finds his pockets empty.
Jesus practised meekness. When men scorned Him, He brought the dead daughter of Jairus back to life; when Judas betrayed Him with a kiss, He addressed him as 'Friend'; when His haters and killers crucified Him, He forgave them all from the cross. His love is radical!
Following the outbreak of war in Ukraine, the UNHCR has reported over 1,045,459 people have fled to neighbouring countries, including Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Moldova, Romania as well as Bulgaria, with the hope of finding safety for themselves and their loved ones during a time of intense violence and uncertainty. In response, Caritas staff and volunteers throughout eastern Europe are working tirelessly to go out and meet thousands of refugees fleeing Ukraine, providing them with food, medicine and temporary accommodation in spite of a highly volatile and dangerous situation.