Saturday, February 22, 2014

An Eye for an Eye?

"An Eye for an Eye Makes the Whole World Blind"
~Mahatma Gandhi

An Eye for an Eye 

Modern history teaches us where this ancient ethic leads; pick a war, any war. One act of violence leads to another. You kill our thousands on 9/11, we’ll kill your hundreds of thousands in two wars in two nations thereafter for more than a decade. Recriminations between Palestinians and Israelis leads to one attack after another. In the land of my countrymen on the Irish side, need we say that Christian Catholics and Christian Protestants pluck an eye for an eye with impunity?

Whether it is in our political life as Republicans and Democrats, as Conservatives or Liberals, whether we are Corporations or Union folk, rich or poor, male or female, whatever race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation; however we identify ourselves, this ethic; “an eye for an eye” is all too operative.  

“You have heard that it was said of old; an eye for an eye”. Thus Jesus begins this Gospel. He seemed to know that given the nature of human nature, this ancient ethic would more than likely live well into every human historic epoch. After all, if anyone knew the intrinsic nature of the human heart, it would be the Logos, the very Word of God made flesh and blood in Jesus.  According to the Scripture, after all, it is through his instrumentality that God made us the way we are.

Yet, having done so, he asks us to do the impossibly perfect thing; “You hit me here” he said pointing to one cheek, “and I will give to you the other one to hit as well. I will not resist you. You ask of me my coat, and I’ll give you my cloak as well. You ask me to go one mile with you, I’ll go the second also.”

This Jesus! These things are impossible! Has he not read history? Even the history of his own Church? We have been the source of countless wars. From Charlemagne, to the Great Christian Empires of Britain, France, Spain, Germany and now the United States of America. Each of these great empires have armed themselves to the hilt with armies and weapons able to defend and attack. It is just the way it is.

Even Deitrich Bonhoeffer, the great German pacifist of World War Two finally gave in and participated in the plot to assassinate Hitler. It was the right thing to do! With the millions dying and the millions more about to die, it was the right thing to do, he reasoned with himself. It was his moral duty. Alas the plot failed. He and those participating in the plot were found out. Only two weeks before the end of the war he was executed on Easter Sunday at prayer and at peace we are told by his biographer and student Eberhard Bethge. He gave in to the will of God and commended himself to his fate.

It is the way of humankind; “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”. What can one man or woman do in the face of history? 

Well, there was Mahatma Gandhi. Through the methods he learned in non violence he participated in the civil rights struggles in South Africa long before Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. He led the struggle for independence in India. Although he never became a Christian as such, he found the teachings of Jesus to be absolutely essential to the formation of a soul in love with God and humankind. After all, it was Gandhi who said; “An eye for an eye only makes the whole world blind”.

And another student of non violence, Martin Luther King, led our own civil rights struggle in our own nation. There are those of us who marched with him and met him and listened to him and were inspired by him. These people have changed my life and many more.

But above all there is Jesus. No weapons please. At the arrest of Jesus in the garden at Gethsemane, one of the disciples of Jesus drew his sword and cut off the ear of the slave to the High Priest. Jesus said “Enough of this. Those who live by the sword, shall die by the sword”.

Here is the one who really changed my life. I dare say, everyone here has had his or her life changed by Jesus in one way or another. And the change, the conversion continues. This Christ-like becoming takes a life time. He wants us to turn the cheek to those who strike us. He wants us to love our enemies. It is hard enough to love our loved ones, let alone those who wish us harm and violence. How then is it that we are to become perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect?

The Greek word for “perfect” used here in Matthew is “telios”. Perfection here has to do with our end or our completion; or God’s intention for us. What is missing in us if we are unable to love? How utterly at odds with God if we cannot be filled with love. It is our end, our “telios” to be filled with such love that it utterly conquers all else. Paul advises us in his letter to the Christians in Colossae; “Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” ~Colossians 3:14. 

And in John’s proclamation that God is Love he uses the word “perfection” in its proper biblical sense; “Love has been perfected among us. (  ). There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us.” ~1 John 4:17-18 

So then, yes we are to be perfect as God in heaven is perfect. The human heart is the mansion in which God seeks to finds a home. “In my father’s house there are many mansions” ~John 14:1. And the more we allow God to enter our hearts the more perfect we become. For it is in this very journey inward to the center of the human heart that we come to the heart of God dwelling within us. Thus indeed it can be said that in my father’s house there are indeed many dwelling places.

Be careful now. Jesus did not say that we are to love others instead of ourselves. Jesus commanded that we are to love others as we do ourselves. It always sounds funny to demand that we love ourselves. But how can we love others unless we begin there? For those of us who have ever flown with children, we learned in the pre-flight safety instructions somewhat counter intuitively, that if there is a sudden loss in cabin pressure, you are to take the oxygen masks that automatically fall from the overhead consoles and first take the mask on your own face before you place it on your child. Otherwise you risk the loss of your own life as well as the life of your child. 

The move to perfection includes first our love of God, then our love of one another as we love ourselves. It is a challenge that takes a lifetime. Just this week I came across a graphic that spells it out. I posted it on my Facebook page. I found it interesting how many there were who found the graphic compelling. A challenge to love includes a fundamental change in the formation of our character. 

Among the things love means are the following;
1. Listen without interrupting. ~Proverbs 18:13
2. Speak without accusing.  ~James 1:19
3. Give without sparing. ~Proverbs 21:26
4. Pray without ceasing. ~1 Thessalonians 5:17
5. Answer without arguing. ~Proverbs 17:1
6. Share without pretending. ~Ephesians 4:15
7. Enjoy without complaining. ~Philippians 2:14
8. Trust without wavering. ~1 Corinthians 13:7
9. Forgive without punishing. ~Colossians 3:14
10. Promise without forgetting. ~Proverbs 13:12

There’s not a one of us who can claim perfection in any or all of these things. If you think you can, I’d like to meet you in my office. 

But the more and more we fill our hearts with the love of God and the love of one another and spell that out not just as a word but as a way of life, the more complete; the more “perfect” we become as Children of God.

Your vestry is struggling in these days with many very thorny issues.
  1. How can we develop this congregation in such a way that it becomes a viable and self supporting congregation?
  2. What is our particular mission in our setting?
  3. Can we really afford a full time priest or is it time to face the music and admit our limitations?
  4. Should we move toward the Holy Eucharist as the Principal act of worship on Sunday it is supposed to be? If so, how? If so, when? 

What characterizes this congregation as mature in its discipleship of Jesus is its willingness to speak the truth to one another in love.

It would certainly be easier for me personally, to just come in here and take services and preach the Gospel and let you take care of all these thing and enjoy the relative ease that any one of us could expect in our retirement, especially after retiring three times already.

But God is in the heart of things, stirring us to do what God would have us do. That’s how I awaken with each new day. What would God have me do today? How would God invite St. Paul’s Church to live and move and have its being?

It seems fitting that Jesus would preach these words in the Sermon on the Mount. “You have heard that it was said of old, .... but I say unto you”. 

“Therefore you must be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect.”

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Fr Paul

Saturday, February 15, 2014

A Matter of Life and Death

We have read too much of drug overdoses and teen suicide in these past few weeks. The words that follow are an attempt to reach our hearts with God's invitation to Life.

A Matter of Life and Death

It never comes at a convenient time. John Lennon is reputed to have said; “Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans.”

It was getting on toward late evening and I was settling in for a pleasant and restful read with a good book. That’s when one of our teen “members”, I use the word member advisedly, came to the door. His face revealed the panic he was in. He told me he was on a bad trip. He had taken some drugs. He told me his heart was pounding and he was scared to death he’d die. So we got into the car and I drove him to the Emergency Room at the Charleston Area Medical Center in the heart of the capitol city of West Virginia. It seemed like it took forever to make the half hour trip. I confess to you that I may have exceeded the speed limit along the way, but given the young man’s state of agitation, I felt that it might indeed be a matter of life and death.

The Emergency room was full of your normal quota of fallout from urban violence, a knife wound here, a gun shot casualty there, some sick with the flu, others milling about impatient with the time it always takes to be seen by someone. As it turns out we had some priority given the nature of the issue, and after the gunshot and knife wound, we were ushered into an examination room. Even then it took a while for some blood tests, and an EKG to tell the doctor what steps needed to be taken to deal with the young man’s ordeal.

The crisis passed on its own as luck would have it. The Doctor did come into the exam room and he seemed quite serious. He told Christopher that he was a lucky man this time. Moreover, he said he was playing with fire, as a number of his friends were. I had dealings with a number of teens from that congregation and community. Given the fact that our own children were at the same age, our social circles often brought these young to my attention. When they had their scrapes with the law they often came to me. They knew that the church was a salvage operation for them. I often spoke of forgiveness and salvation. And the “gang” even came to church on some of the high holy days and heard the message of salvation. Still they liked to push the envelope and see what they could get away with. As it turns out most of them made it. But there were a few tragic casualties along the way.

On the way back from the hospital, there was an awkward silence. After allowing the awkwardness to build some, I told Christopher what I have tried to tell all teens along the way; “There are only two ways to live: the way that leads to life, and the way that leads to death. Which way makes sense to you?” His answer was a rather quiet and penitent “life”. What I tried to tell these teens I try to tell us all: there are only two ways to live; the way that leads to life and the way that leads to death.

This is the essence of the Deuteronomic Law Code that Moses tried to teach the people during his farewell discourses. In the Book of Deuteronomy he reviews the amazing history of the Exodus event and of how God gave the people freedom. With this freedom, however, came a God given Law. This Law is the way that leads to life and prosperity. Disobedience of the Law leads to death and adversity. Near the end of today’s lesson, Moses repeats himself in no uncertain terms; “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses.” ~Deuteronomy 30:19 

This is how I spoke to Christopher. How hard I worked to reach his soul. I cannot begin to describe the joy I felt when he and about a dozen of his friends came to Christmas Eve services later that year. They were probably not all entirely in a state of sobriety, but all but one are still with us. There was the one I lost along the way. No matter what I said, no matter what I did, no matter how hard he tried, somehow the demons got to him. And now, he is in God’s hands, too soon he’s in God’s hands in the everlasting habitations.

This is what makes the message of the Gospel so urgent in my heart and mind and soul. There are only two ways: the way that leads to life and the way that leads to death.

Jesus engages us in the Sermon on the Mount with similar choices. In his teachings on killing and anger, adultery and divorce, swearing and oaths, he spoke of the old way and the way of God. In his approach to the ancient Laws of Moses, he delves into the heart of things. “You have heard that it was said of old”. Moses cut you a deal. Not so with Jesus. He goes to the heart of the matter. It is not just the matter of killing, it is more to the matter of holding onto the anger you harbor in your hearts. Guess who that’s killing? It is not just the matter of adultery, it is more to the heart of the matter of how you even look at one another. As to the matter of divorce, we know that Jesus had high standards, and that the only exception he cut for his absolute standard was for the woman actually caught in the very act of adultery. But that’s another sermon. Even then in the matter of swearing and oaths Jesus held out for the simplicity of “Yes” and “No”.

There really are just two ways to live. It is interesting to note that the earliest record we have of a written Christian document is what scholars call “The Didache”. You can look it up online. The word “Didache” means the teachings, and in this case the teachings of the apostles. The Didache was used by the early church in the Teaching of converts to Christianity especially the among young and the teens of the community. It applied to us all, but in our youth we tend to be more intense in how we look at life issues. The matter of teen suicide is so disquieting. So many of our young live rudderless lives and are so vulnerable to the demons that attack the radiant beauty of youth. That’s why it is a matter of some urgency that we impress upon one another how central a role the church’s teaching plays in the formation of Christian character. This is the way to life; Love God and Love one another!

And he opening line of the Didache? Yes, you guessed it; "There are two ways, one of life and one of death, but a great difference between the two ways." The Didache goes on to spell it out. But in my confirmation classes I ask our young to spell it out in our historic and cultural context. As a rule, drugs comes out number one. Sex comes a close second. Education comes next. After all the misuse of drugs can kill you. Teen pregnancy can alter you plans for you life significantly. Education or the lack of it can spell out the difference in what vocational choices will be open to you. Our young people are not dumb. 

They know the stakes. We all know that the games we play in life we play for keeps. That’s why we read the wisdom of the ages in the Holy Writings. We glean from them so much wisdom for our lives. But foundational and fundamental to all life’s lessons is the choices we all make; the choice to follow the way that leads to life or the way that leads to death.

St Paul recognizes in his first letter to the Christian community in Corinth that there is a tendency to become a bit factious. There were those who belonged to the party of Paul and others who belonged to the party of Apollos. Partisanship as you no doubt know is nothing new in the conduct of human affairs. Partisanship can become deleterious to the building up of the Body of Christ. We, the church, are called to be Jesus to one another. Paul always points to Christ as the beginning and the ending of our unity with God and one another. This is the way that leads to life. For as long as we live according to the flesh there is jealousy and quarreling. But as spiritual people we look well beyond partisanship. As Paul puts it; “So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labor of each. For we are God's servants, working together; you are God's field, God's building.” ~I Corinthians 3:9. 

Yes, there are just two ways: The Way that leads to Life and the way that leads to death. May God give us Grace to walk The Way that Leads to Eternal Life.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Fr Paul.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

War and Peace; Our Choice

Let Your Light Shine

The choice between war and peace is always before us. Which will we choose today?

In today's Gospel, Jesus says; 
“You are the salt of the earth
You are the light of the world.
Let your light so shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
~Matthew 5:13-25

And in today's first lesson, the prophet says;
“Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.”
~Isaiah 58:6-8

The biblical narrative consistently connects the inner light and our radiance in the world, to the manner in which we treat those among us who happen to be in want or in need. And so it is, that when talking of fasting and prayer, the prophetic tradition and Jesus see that our faith and our servant ministry become inextricably bound up together. So shall our light shine into this dark world.

On Tuesday of this week, the New York Times published an article by Roy Hoffman, a journalist and novelist from Fairhope, Alabama. He writes of a time he found himself jogging. He has done well in life, has known of life’s joys and sorrows, has a good job, and a great family. He is in good health. And here is what he wrote.

“On this day, I sprint up a hill and come to a promontory looking out to the sweep of the bay, the horizon red and orange, and another impulse comes up in me. It is not enough to take a photo, call a friend, jot a line in my notebook, be philosophical. Like the light, the feeling is orchestral, a welling-up of emotion. I want to speak in a way that used to be easy for me as a child: silently, intensely, embracing the mysteries.
I want to pray.”

He had become a casualty of the national trend of newspaper layoffs and found himself on the religious beat and even against his doubt and skepticism, he found himself increasingly fascinated by the world of faith, until one day he rediscovered his own. He had been a rebellious youth and renounced his father’s faith. He rebelled against authority in many forms as a youth. But now he had grown older and more aware of his own vulnerability and yes, his mortality. He began to look at life a bit differently and began to wonder more about the mystery of it all.

He had seen faith divide people like a cudgel. But he also saw faith bring people together such as in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti when every church, synagogue and mosque in town came together in a united prayer service to raise funds for those in need. He began to see the value of what we in the world of faith do day in and day out to make a difference in this old, dark world.

He began to see the light shine such as the prophets speak of in the holy writings. And then one day he found himself at prayer. It was essentially a silent prayer, but when he put words to it he found himself tracing the intricacies of his inmost heart. This was his prayer.

“Dear God, Whatever we call you
Wherever we find you
in the laughter of our children
the tenderness of our parents
the strength of our brothers and sisters and friends
the closeness of our companions and husbands and wives. 
In the arc of the pelican
the leap of the mullet, 
the perfect sunny day
or incoming storm
In whatever ways we understand you, 
in a church or synagogue or mosque, 
or on a beach beneath a starry sky, 
we offer gratitude for this day.”

It is a profound human impulse to worship, to pray, and to fast. Often it is on a long walk with the dog or for the more hale sorts among us when out jogging, we become aware of the bite of the wind, and our breath making ghosts in the air, and something deep within us makes us aware of the mystery of it all.

And then it goes to a growing appreciation to an ages long connection we have with those ancient rituals that gather us together as they have for millennia. The reading of holy writings, the singing of ancient songs, the breaking of the bread, the drinking of wine. We cozy up at the altar as one people, we brush up against one another and listen to ancient words and our heartbeats connecting us now to the heart of God.

The noun “worship” means “a feeling or expression of reverence and adoration of a deity”. The verb similarly references “ a show of reverence or adoration of a deity; to honor a deity with religious rites.”

The very idea that God needs us to tell him or her how good s/he is, misses the mark to me. Why would God need us for that? We are merely creatures created in God’s image, male and female, the scripture says, he made us and thank God for that! ~Genesis 5:2
But what does it mean to be created in the image of God? It certainly doesn’t mean we look like God.The Catechism says; “It means that we are free to make choices: to love, to create, to reason, and to live in harmony with creation and with God.” ~The Catechism, page 845, Book of Common Prayer. 

Thus when we come together for worship, we come to learn, to listen, to rehearse the ancient rites of the church and not so much to tell God how good God is, we come to understand how good God wants us to become.

We come here first to confess, and give ourselves the chance to be honest to God about who we are. The degree to which that honesty rings true will determine the degree to which God can then forgive us. Likewise as we confess to one another the truth of who we are to one another. God is then able to effect the essential salve of reconciliation which makes the present and the future possible among us. The work of reconciliation helps us to choose peace over war. It is a ministry we must never flag in pursuingThus you and I respond to love God and one another, which is the whole of the Law and the Prophets summed or as Jesus said; “Love God. Love one another.”

It is noteworthy that the New York Times would become interested in religion once again. After all, years ago, many of our great dailies dropped the religion section. Now we have headlines, the world, the nation, metro, business, sports, the obits, and the comics. No religion section? Just the occasional article? Maybe a bit piece on Saturday in our town papers? 

Do you think we’re missing something here? When religion is mishandled, dreadful things can happen. Religion in the wrong hands is a very dangerous thing. No doubt religious warfare or jihad can cost thousands upon thousands of lives. We are part and parcel of the darkness of religion in our own national experience in the thousands who died on 9/11 and the hundreds of thousands who died in the two wars we’ve waged since in the subsequent fourteen years. Killing in the name of God is the ultimate blasphemy, the ultimate darkness.

The times in which we live are not all that different from other times, other epochs in human history. The sad chronicle of religious warfare is well documented.

But Jesus said; “you are the salt of the earth.
You are the light of the world.
Let your light so shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

It is how we handle our faith in bringing us together as one people, a whole smorgasbord of color, texture, type and taste. Yes, we are a kaleidoscope of creation. God delights in us. It is God’s call to us to shine with this very light in every color of God’s rainbow.

You are doing exactly that. Stay on message, my friends. Shine on with the Light of Christ.

God bless you all,
Fr Paul

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Homophobia Politics & Reconciliation

Homophobia & Politics

The old man took the Child in his arms and said "Now I can depart in peace according to your word, for with my own eyes I have seen the salvation of God which you have prepared before the face of ALL people. For you are a Light to the Nations and the Glory of your own people". 
The old woman Anna stayed in the temple day after day, night after night praising God. It was all she could do to satisfy her soul after the loss of her husband. Ah, but when she saw the Child her soul sang in exultation because all who looked to this Child would see the salvation of God. ~Luke 2:22-40
The old woman.
The old man.
The Child.
The Feast Day of the Presentation; February 2. What a wonderful Feast Day, also known as Candlemas for it was on this day that all the candles used in the previous year were melted down in preparation for Easter. It was a hopeful day after a long winter. It was a sign that Spring would come. It was, as with so much of our faith, the heart of hope.
It has been a long hard winter for many, but now the days are getting noticeably longer. Punxsutawney Phil, the Pennsylvania groundhog, will come out of his hole to see his shadow or not. Poor thing has to compete for attention with the Superbowl.
But we’ve long since given up trying to compete. We are the church. We proclaim the Gospel. It is and always has been, there for the taking. Or if you prefer, you may ignore the whole thing.  
But when that day comes and it always does, when the loss of something  or someone dear to us becomes inevitable, all that the world can see is the bad news. There is just the darkness of oblivion for so many.
The chasm between those with faith and those without is wide and almost impossible to breach. Even Thomas Aquinas, arguably one of the greatest of all theologians, said; “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.” ~Thomas Aquinas

But the Gospel sees more, believes more and hopes much more than so many in our contemporary world see, believe, or hope for. Our lives are not set in a night of gloom but amid the splendors of God’s everlasting day. We saw it initially in our baptism when all our sins were washed away. It was then that we were buried with Christ in a death like his in order that we may be raised with him in a life like his. For as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be made alive. ~I Corinthians 15. These words have become a part of us. The Blessed Apostle Paul gave them to us long ago and it is now that we work to embrace them in our lives. For it is clear to us that God’s everlasting day shines not just when we are summoned to our final reward, it shines in the midst of the lives we live even now. 
These are so much more than words to us who walk the King’s Highway. Like Simeon and Anna it is our joy to dwell in the household of God. For we are persuaded that nothing can separate us from the love of God. We know that we are forgiven, thus we forgive and that the ministry we have been given is the ministry of reconciliation. This is our lifetime work. And that work begins every day of our lives.
Anglican Homophobia
The challenges we face within our own Anglican Communion are significant. New laws are being passed in both Nigeria and Uganda to criminalize homosexual behavior. The Anglican Churches in both nations embrace these new laws. It took a while but the Archbishops of both York and Canterbury have made clear that such persecution of minorities is not consistent with the mind of Christ or of this Church. 

The American Church went on record about this matter some time ago. Uganda and Nigeria have formally broken ties with us over the question of our stand on inclusivity in both the Episcopal Church in the United States, and the Anglican Church in Canada. 
See how much there is to be reconciled. In the meantime, we in the west have always found it necessary to grant a fair amount of cultural latitude to the churches in Africa over matters of family life there. The matter of bigamy for instance in the churches of Africa is still not fully resolved.Where is the theological and pastoral reciprocity now? It is interesting to see how selective we are when it comes to the invocation of Biblical authority.
Don’t Drink the Water!

Nationally the great divide between us continues. The role of government in our public life is a matter of intense controversy. Even with the poisoning of the drinking water in West Virginia, any regulation of either the coal or the chemical industry is a hotly contested matter, even in the wake of the disaster. And just take a good look at Atlanta to see whether the public safety is at stake when it comes to anemic governmental response when dealing with disaster.  Whether of human or natural origin the public safety must be protected.
We are divided in so many matters. The Gospel requires much more of us than merely to express our own opinions. We are called to search diligently and work tirelessly for a pathway to reconciliation of all who are divided one against another. Thus we come back to the ministry of reconciliation which has been given us. Listen to these words from the Apostle Paul;
“From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us." ~2 Corinthians 5:16-18

These words are a challenge to us when it comes to their application whether in our church or in our political life. When it comes to loving God, that’s easy, but when it comes to loving one another, things do seem to get bogged down.

Just because peace, justice and reconciliation are difficult shall never mean that we give up, certainly not if we seek to say we love God. The peace talks over the civil war in Syria are a case in point. People are dying. People are suffering. As UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said; “This is a matter of serious urgency”. 

It is tempting to throw your hands up in the air; what’s the use? I often wondered that about peace prospects in Ireland, but the Good Friday accords have now held, more or less, since April 10, 1998. With God much is possible.

Jesus had to give his life for the sins of the whole world. So did all of his immediate apostolic following. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that for the rest of us, but the ministry of reconciliation is the redemptive way of dedicating our lives for the sake of the Peace of the World.

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Fr Paul