As the horrors and violence rage on in Israel and Palestine, we may be feeling sad and helpless, and understandably so. I notice I have been experiencing the daily readings from the Psalms and the Prophets in a much deeper way; perhaps you have as well. It is right for us to feel pain; to cry out in anguish for the suffering of our fellow humans; to pray to God for those who are hurting, and for an end to war and violence of all kinds.
It is right for us also to be witnesses and examples of God’s peace in our own part of the world. In this regard, we are not helpless. We can and should reach out to friends and neighbours we know are suffering, and check in on and support those who may have family or friends in war zones, as well as those whose communities may be experiencing the effects of hate and prejudice right here. It is important for us not to be passive witnesses to these things, but to strive to be examples of love and compassion, and courage in challenging hatred.
It is important for us also to guard our hearts and to stay connected to God, who is the source of our hope and peace. At a recent Benedictine chapter meeting, our topic was on avoiding the ‘zeal of bitterness’ in the face of crisis. One thing that has stuck with me since then is the phrase ‘never despair of the mercy of God.’ The same Psalms that give us powerful words of lament can also remind us that we have reason not to despair the mercy of God, for God has always been and will always be with us.
So, grieve, mourn, lament… pray and hope. Be God’s love in the world. And never despair of the mercy of God.