I can't think of a better time than now to visit the Blessed Sacrament and listen to the Prince of Peace. Forget about the arguments about where it is located in the church. In the words of the late Jimmy Freeman, 'Make a visit, however brief.'
I do not accept the notion that fifteen per cent of the Church are true believers and the rest are going to hell in a handbasket: people love Jesus, they hunger for peace, they abhor the 'merchants of death' as the anti-war Pope John Paul II described them. The first notion is a quantitative dismissal of the Faithful, the People of God. Their faith can move mountains and stop wars.
The Lord of Peace is greater than a tabernacle. Listen to Him.
If you are not a Catholic you will still find Him in a sacramentless church, in an open field, in the vast sky above that can send the gentle rain of mercy, not rockets, bombs and bullets.
Mercy, after all, is the highest form of justice.
An alien being landing on this Planet and examining human archives could be forgiven for reaching the conclusion that he visiting a vast fertilizer pit, the earth watered down through the ages with human blood.
We recall the catastrophe of the Holocaust, the Sho'ah
The darkest stage of human history
The allowing of the utter annihilation that swept away six million Jews
And five million others,
That made unwanted human beings vanish…
Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, the mentally handicapped, the imperfect…
The Holocaust of innocent victims
The coming of stifling, asphyxiating darkness
The falling down into a bottomless pit of
Destruction, of hatred -
The attempt to wipe out a whole people from the face of the earth
Who gave so much to humanity.
All creatures, however, as St Augustine has said, crave peace, even if it has to be on their terms.
The Arab people of the Middle East are no different.
'Neither oppressor, nor oppressed be' says the Qu'ran.
We recall in our prayers the suffering of people in Israel as rockets from Hizbollah, Lebanon's only effective military in the only Arab democracy, rain down.
We pray for the dispossessed, jailed and ghettoed Palestinians, and for a New Zion that is not based upon Dispossession but on the instruction of Rabbi Hillel and Jesus to love our neighbour.
Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is One: and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart: and you shall teach them diligently to your children and you shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up (Deut 6: 4-7).
In mosque, in synagogue, in church and in the open spaces we pray and work for Peace between all people. Shalom, salaam, pax vobiscum !
It is time for ordinary people to start a spiritual revolution to move away from the Armageddon end-game believed in by the leaders of the United States, Israel, Syria and Iran, time to start asking, Cui bono? Who benefits apart from arms dealers, land grabbers, oil barons, neocons, fundamentalists and the military-industrial complex so feared by General and President Eisenhower?
I remember some graffiti on a wall during the Prague Spring:
Soldiers from everywhere
Go home, and stay there
I also recall a sign put up by Aussie soldiers under bombardment during the carnage in France in World War I:
There are people in here!
We need to challenge the evangelical Christian Right's double-edged view of Israel. Following a classic anti-Jewish stance, it regards the Jewish people as spiritually blind for rejecting Jesus. It regards Israel's existence as proof that biblical prophecies are coming true — heralding an apocalypse in which Jews will either die or accept Jesus.
I fear the 'Rapture' that the Neocons have in mind. George W. Bush exchanged the Booze for the Bible, but what bits does he read?
The Curmudgeon's mailbox is overflowing.
After the slaughter in Cana (Qana) I wrote:
No weddings in Cana today
No bride, no bridegroom
No water into wine
No telephone from Washington
No call for a ceasefire
The preachers preach the Rapture
And turn the pages to Armageddon
Armament shares rise, so do wine prices
No need to turn water into wine
In Cana water has turned into blood
No weddings in Cana today
Instead, more than fifty funerals
More than twenty children lie dead
No weddings in Cana today
Only plenty of funerals
Will the irrelevant Jesus appear?
Armen Gakavian writes: This was beautiful Cliff . Very moving. I wept when I read it.
Australian Church Leaders write:
If these were silent the Stones would shout out
A Statement on the Middle East by Australian Church leaders
1 August 2006
We find it impossible to remain silent in the face of so much pain and suffering in the Middle East, both in Lebanon and in Israel, but we have been particularly outraged by the news this morning of the deaths in the Lebanese village of Qana, no matter what its cause.
Where is the moral courage of our leaders? How can the leadership of the Australian Government and the Opposition not cry out for an immediate and unconditional cease-fire?
We are outraged that such unspeakable pain is being unleashed upon civilians, especially women and children, while the world remains largely silent.
Does it not occur to the Governments of Israel and the United States of America that the very possibility of a lasting, generational, peace is being made almost impossible while a new generation of youth are being accustomed to violence as a way of life.
We deplore the violence of Hezbollah and we deplore the violence of the State of Israel.
We find it impossible to understand how the leaders of our own nation have remained so cowardly silent in the face of such brutality.
We have had enough of this so called war on terror. When will the governments of the world come to understand that peace can only be built on justice and fairness?
We urge all governments of the world to invest in the millennium goals as the road to peace and to immediately apply them for the peoples of the Middle East.
We support the Christian leaders of Jerusalem in their recent call for an end to violence in the Middle East.
We can have no peace while violence is repaid with violence. It is a recipe for eventual annihilation.
May God have mercy upon us all and may there still remain, somewhere in that battered part of the world a seed which can one day grow into peace for the children who will soon become adults. May they not perpetuate the wrongs of the leadership of this generation.
Bishop George Browning, Anglican Church
Bishop Pat Power, Roman Catholic Church
Reverend Peter Walker, Uniting Church
Dr Kevin Bray, Churches of Christ
Professor James Haire, Director, Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture
They were not the only ones saying 'enough violence, time to talk' :
We, Jewish Voices for Peace and Justice, Australian Arabic Palestinian Support Association, Lebanese Community Council, The Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies brought together by our common humanity, people dedicated to peace, non-violence, conflict resolution, International Humanitarian Law and human rights, ask that our voice be heard.
Almost sixty years of bloodshed, violence, counter violence and many wars have not resulted in an end to the conflict, or an end to the pain and sufferings, to the killing of the innocents.
Buffer zones, mass retaliation, killing of civilians and oppression have not brought about lasting security or a just and equitable peace. There is a complex history of oppression and hurt for all peoples involved in the conflict, and it is counter-productive to blame one side or another.
Prospects for peace depend on resurrecting the value of dialogue and negotiation. History has shown that for entrenched cycles of violence to end, a willingness to meet in the spirit of common humanity is required. Israelis and Americans, Palestinians and Europeans, Arab politicians and United Nations representatives need to renew an interest in life rather than death. Realising these goals depends on a peace enhancing culture replacing the current preoccupation with violence and war. Only changed attitudes will enhance the possibilities of a ceasefire and a subsequent peace with justice for the Palestinians and security for the Israelis.
All parties, including Israelis, Palestinians and Lebanese should adhere to a ceasefire across Lebanon and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The long term solution is to build confidence and trust, the creation of an independent Palestinian State and a secure State of Israel. The UN resolutions already e xist to provide the framework for negotiation.
We urge the Palestinian, Lebanese and Israeli Leaders to respect the lives of civilians and to create an environment that is safe and secure for all. We urge the Israeli Government to ease the harsh conditions in the West Bank and Gaza.
We, the concerned signatories to this statement, urge all people in Australia and the world to work together in bringing about a peaceful outcome to the problems of the Israeli-Palestinian issues. This can only come about by fresh thinking that is not based on past injustices and oppression, but on a commitment to a good life for all peoples in the region.
Our vision is that this document will contribute to continuing dialogue, between the signatories and others in Australia and around the world.
Enough violence, enough killing and enough suffering. Its time to listen, to hear and talk to one another.
For further information please contact:
Jewish Voices for Peace and Justice
Donna Jacobs Sife 0417241418
Claire Jankelson 0401 156 321
Australian Arabic Palestinian Support Association Inc
Abe Quadan 0412 460 373
Lebanese Community Council
Elie Nassif 0425230649 96260162
Centre for Peace & Conflict Studies
Prof. Stuart Rees 9351 4763 9351 4468
Then there were those who thought Qana was a stunt:
Israpundit wrote to say that Qana (Cana) may have been staged.
A Jewish friend writes:
Here is a powerful and amazing statement on Al Jazeera television. The woman is Wafa Sultan, an Arab-American psychologist from Los Angeles. This is one very brave intelligent woman, and I'd suggest watching it ASAP because I don't know how long the link will be active..............
Another Jewish friend writes to point to this letter in The Age newspaper, Melbourne:
As two people who lived in Israel for many years, raised their children there and identified with its founding fathers, we feel utterly devastated and ashamed at the direction chosen by that country to deal with the current crisis. This campaign with its devastation and killing is morally bankrupt and politically short-sighted. The capacity to wield overwhelming military might has, it seems, come at the expense of wisdom. David of old, has been transformed into a Goliath.
The havoc being wreaked on Lebanon might, at best, achieve a temporary respite for Israel from the pressure exerted by Hezbollah. In the long run, this war can only serve to enhance Hezbollah's influence in that country, create a new generation of willing martyrs and strengthen the hand of Syria in Lebanese politics. Knee-jerk, populist shows of strength win elections. They can never win the peace.
David and Pamela Rothfield, Narre Warren East
A strong anti-war message comes from Gush Shalom and Uri Avnery: www.gush-shalom.org
The Israeli army, one of the strongest in the world, is already fighting for 16 days against an organization that has only a few thousand fighters. It is impossible to win against a guerilla organization. There is no military
Help us to pay for actions and ads by checks to Gush Shalom
Peace be with all visitors to Catholica!
Cliff Baxter is a highly awarded journalist with a lifetime experience gained on the principal Australian secular newspapers, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and The Catholic Weekly.
We welcome your thoughts in response to this commentary in our forum.
Conversation #1: Where has God gone in people's lives today?Catholica and the Blue Mountain Education & Research Trust present a series of extended cyber conversations with four leading writers on spirituality, Rev Dr Eugene Stockton, Mr Peter B. Todd, Professor David Tacey and Dr Kevin Treston examining the question why there has been such a dramatic fall-off in religious participation across the Western world in the last half century. The conversations are moderated by Australia's leading religious affairs journalist and presenter, Stephen Crittenden. This is the opening conversation to the series introducing the panellists who have a general conversation centred on the opening question "shadowbox;width=853;height=480;" title=""Where has God gone in people's lives today?". Five other conversations will follow on subsequent Mondays except for Christmas week. The first three conversations concentrate discussion on explanations for the fall-off in participation. The final three examine positive ways in which the spiritual landscape in Western society seems to be changing. Have we entered, as author Karen Armstrong suggests, a Third Great Axial Age of Religion and the entire way we humans relate to the spiritual side of life and God is changing dramatically? 43m 23s [Where this is permanently published on Catholica] | [WATCH THE VIDEO]