Pope Francis made an impassioned plea for peace at the UN today. He then went to Ground Zero for an interfaith prayer service. It was particularly moving to see the different faiths present at Ground Zero, to see an Imam and a Rabbi open the service together; they even embraced. There were so many beautiful moments.
What are we to make of this? How do we reach beyond our own pews and embrace those of other faiths? How do we see people who may appear as enemies, as fellow children of the same God?
Pope Francis’ presence in a place of such extreme violence, violence that was somehow supposed to be in the name of God is a powerful reminder of the notion that is in places where wounds are, healing springs forth. This is the thorn in the flesh of St. Paul (2 Corinthians 12) and this is also the Cross. A crucifixion without resurrection is folly.
How can we pray together to find peace and to wage peace? Peace must begin in our hearts, the peace that Christ has given to us, found in John 14:27, and heard at every Eucharist:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.
Maybe that is it. Much violence and prejudice is based on fear. Let us pray that the light of Christ illuminate our hearts so that we are not afraid. May the love of Christ turn our wounds into grace and growth. Peace starts as a seed and can grow, not only in our own hearts, but shared and lived.
Let us pray for peace from within, animated by Christ, will allow us to each bring our gifts into a more peaceful and harmonious world. Pope Francis asks this as Jesus did before him. Let us begin now.
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