pope francis peace

On this past Saturday, September 7th, Pope Francis made an appeal to all mankind. He made a plea that we, fast and pray for peace in this world. Unfortunately, they are two words, “fast” and “pray”, that we seem to shun, to pull away from. To fast means to deny oneself of something pleasurable, namely food. To pray means to stop worshipping ourselves, but rather acknowledging and praying to a higher authority. The pope’s appeal said many things to us. I am unable to focus on more than one or two salient points in his public prayer. To read the entire meditation of Pope Francis, click here.

What I want to focus on, what I want you to see and hear, are his words on Syria, on world peace. The body of nations, at least most of them, agree that the use of chemical weapons is a horrible form of murder. The body of nations also agrees, again most of them, that they should be banished. And yet, we have some nations that don’t agree with those last two statements. They find these instruments of death “useful ways” of controlling their citizenry. This, I am sure is one of those crimes that cry out to God for vengeance. And that is exactly what we must do. LEAVE it in the hands of God. Trusting that God will rectify this horrible situation, is not burying your head in the sand.

Pope Francis speaks in terms of horrific evil. And though this is so, he pleads for sanity, he begs for calm. His most pertinent words are these, “You cannot purge evil, with evil.” Evil will only flare up and create more evil. These are very deadly times. These are times when we cannot stick out our chin and declare that we are right, and that we must retaliate. To do so, at this time, will truly rip apart a world that is already torn by grief, by hatred, and by pride.

And yet, the argument will be made, “…if we do nothing, evil has won.” That argument goes on and points out more stupidity. “…by retaliating, we back up our words. We stand firm. We show them that we mean business.” As I said, earlier, evil begets evil. Our pride, whether it be personal or national, is misplaced here. Do we really think that a show of might is what is needed now? Let’s bludgeon them into submission…is that the idea? There will always be a dictator that feels he has nothing to lose. He will throw those very same people that he would have gassed, up to be his defenses against the world.

The pope emphasizes that prayer to God, that Supreme Being, who is Father of us all, is the only measure that makes sense. Extend a hand in friendship, as horrible as that may seem. Ask the nations to sit down and each side explains their position. Have we not learned anything from the Christ? He sat with harlots and thieves. He mingled with those suffering from leprosy, the unclean of the world, so to speak. He did not lash out at His persecutors. He answered their questions and even gave them an opportunity to repent, to change their ways.

We live in a civilized nation. We extend our hand in friendship to countries and nations. Some times that extended hand is just frozen there in time, and is never grasped. But we do extend it. Don’t we? Or, are we saying that there are just some things that we cannot, and will not tolerate. So rather than talk, rather than negotiate…we will crush them?

“We will look foolish if we don’t retaliate”. “We cannot sit back and do nothing”. Are these your thoughts? We are not doing “nothing”. We are trying to deal with evil in the only way that makes sense…with goodness. You think we will look foolish? How foolish will we look and feel if we get embroiled in a war, when diplomacy was NOT tried? This is not the time to flex whatever muscle we still have. This isn’t when we should stand on our pride and exclaim, “We told you, “Don’t use the chemical weapons”. Death is death, no matter how you look at it. Is it ok to kill the unborn? Is it ok to retaliate, causing countless more lives to be slain? Do we really think that our individual judgment is so “right on”, that we can throw the whole world into hell, with impunity?

Pope Francis is asking us to pray. Individually, we are playing a game of Russian roulette. Collectively, the whole world, the civilized peoples of this world must come together and say, “Enough is enough”. There must be a civilized way of getting obstinate nations to talk. Ostracize them? Don’t trade with them? Bring them to their senses without trying to bludgeon them. If you still feel that justice must be served, then seek it, but only after negotiations, peaceful methods, Christian methods have been tried.

We seem to keep lowering ourselves to the standards of those with whom we disagree. Isn’t it about time when we try raising other people’s standards to ours? Or, is the problem, we have lowered our standards so much, in the past, that our standards, our principles are not much higher than other peoples? It is time for us to decide what we want to be, if and, when we grow up.