Thursday, September 25, 2014

Who Then is This?

All rivers go to the sea, yet never does the sea become full.  To the place where they go, the rivers keep on going.  All speech is labored; there is nothing one can say.  The eye is not satisfied with seeing nor is the ear satisfied with hearing.  Ecclesiastes 1:7-8

But Herod said, “John I beheaded.  Who then is this about whom I hear such things?”  And he kept trying to see him.  Luke 9:9

Now the valley cried with anger,
"Mount your horses! Draw your sword!"
And they killed the mountain-people,
So they won their just reward.

Now they stood beside the treasure,
On the mountain, dark and red.
Turned the stone and looked beneath it...
"Peace on Earth" was all it said.
From One Tin Soldier (The Legend of Billy Jack) by Dennis Lambert & Brian Potter, performed by The Original Caste (1970)

Do you have the curiosity of Herod?  Do you still wonder who is this Jesus character about whom you hear such things? 
Perhaps we transfer our curiosity to Pope Frances.  Whether we wonder about the mystical body of Christ or the actual Vicar of Christ who walks and talks and catches baseballs among us, we are curious.  Our study is all about answering that curiosity.  We seek satisfaction.  We seek something to say.  But we may never achieve that which we seek. 

The New American Bible notes explain of the first reading that “movement in nature and human activity appears to result in change and progress. The author argues that this change and progress are an illusion: “Nothing is new under the sun” as we chase after futile activity.

But the chase we are engaged in is the chase to know Christ.  And that chase is the one that is worthwhile.

Monday night was occasion to break bread (fruit, vegetables, and more prepared by D.C. Central Kitchen) with co-presidents Marie Dennis and Bishop Kevin Dowling, C.SS.R., and Secretary General Jose Henriquez of Pax Christi International.  I know many peace activists in the U.S., but am not too familiar with those from the international community.

The 50 or so assembled in a McLean, Virginia living room listened to stories about the aftermath of war in Yugoslavia, the children and teachers killed by shrapnel bombs dropped by their own government in the Sudan, the poverty experience by the platinum mining striker in the Diocese of Rustenburg, South Africa. 

“War ends,” Bishop Dowling explained, “when we stop killing each other.”  However, the wounds of death, rape, and horrible injuries cannot be healed without reconciliation. Peace Accords from Paris or Dayton or Versailles mean little if hearts and minds of neighbors who were killing neighbors cannot comeback together in community.

Upon arriving home and checking into the news, that very night was when the world learned that the latest offensive was launched in the Middle East at the latest sources of terror.  The battle has begun in response to the image brought to mind by Herod’s ancient execution of John and modern atrocities that make nations make war.  At some point it will end.  But the peace may never be secured without getting to the hearts and minds of the combatants, including our own hearts and minds.

That is the work of Pax Christi International. You can support its work through gifts to the Pax Christi Fund for Peace, 415 Michigan Avenue, NE Box 16, Washington, DC 20017 or
·         Maybe you can give $4 per month – one for the lives of four American churchwomen slain in El Salvador.
·         Maybe you can give $34 per month in honor of the mine workers who lost their lives fighting for better wages in Rustenberg, S.A.
·         Maybe you can give $60 per month in honor of the number of countries where Pax Christi International works.
·         Maybe you can consider $70 per month in honor of the years since Pax Christi International was founded at the end of World War II.
We seek satisfaction.  We seek Jesus.  We can find Him through those who work brick by dirty, sweaty, bloody brick to build his Kingdom here one day at a time. 

In the words of Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw: 
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.

We are prophets of a future not our own.

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