Suffering And Brutality

It has been another heart-breaking week. The Covid-19 pandemic continues its ravages in many, mostly poor, countries, the Palestinian Israel conflict has worsened, other ethnic and tribal conflicts continue (Yemen, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Chad, etc.), a priest due to be consecrated bishop in South Sudan on 23rd May was shot – and three of those arrested are Catholic priests of a different tribe.

Where do you stand and pray in the world’s conflicts – do you know enough to be a peacemaker, trusted by both or all sides? I remember someone summing up the Northern Ireland tensions “Why don’t they bang their silly heads together!” and feeling embarrassed by such political, social and historical ignorance. I hope you would say better.

The Holy Land conflict is thousands of years old, Palestinians living there long before Israel invaded and carried out a genocide in the name of God who, claimed Israel, had promised the land to them. Read the Book of Judges and the horror that invasion was in the 13th century BC.

Read of the cruelty of Roman invasions, conquests, wars and slavery in the 1st and 2nd centuries. Thousands of Jewish slaves built the monument to human cruelty, the Colosseum, where all the sport was killings, the games various ways of spilling blood. I was speaking of the Jewish suffering in the cruelty of the Colosseum and then invited the pilgrims to go and explore for themselves. A man approached me: “You admire the Jews, don’t you?” he said. “I do – they have suffered so much down the centuries from the Christian Church and, finally, under Naziism, yet have retained their family and people identity. Of course I admire them. Are you a Jew?” I added, suddenly aware of his middle eastern looks. “No,” he said, “I am a Palestinian. I take nothing from your admiration of the Jews, but I do ask you to remember we Palestinians were there thousands of years before the Jews invaded and conquered our people, almost wiping them out.” He smiled, sadly, and walked away.

So true. Israel invaded Palestine claiming the land and the wiping out of the local people in the name of God. Do you believe God would order the genocide of a people? That part of the Bible is lying propaganda.

Other parts are beautiful and inspiring, full of faith and love. The Bible is books written by different people of their understanding of God, and sometimes very ugly. Do you admire the prophet Elijah? The bible seems to. Elijah slit the throats of 450 men as the people watched, admiring.

In today’s Holy Land I love and support the victims on both sides and wonder about the justice that cleared parts of Palestine in 1948 to give to the Jews. I also wonder why people are dying in many other conflicts but we hear so much about the Holy Land.

We pray with and for all who suffer helplessly under the power of brutal men and well-funded warfare.

God bless us to find the peace and justice we long for,

Fr John

(16th May 2021)

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