Back in 1983 the Canadian singer Anne Murray released a song which, unfortunately, is still timely today. Entitled “A little good news,” it begins with a mention of “Bryant Gumbel was talkin’ ‘bout the fighting in Lebanon.” Although Gumbel has long since left morning television of NBC and CBS, Lebanon still is in need of prayers for peace (it is not back in civil war yet, but is teetering much closer to it than our country).
As any viewer of “Family Guy” would know, Anne Murray didn’t write the songs she sang, but she does like the messages they have. This song gave a list of lamentations about overdoses, murders, robberies, etc., but it also expressed a series of hopes, such as “nobody was assassinated in the whole Third World today, and in the streets of Ireland, all the children had to do was play.”
Thanks be to God and people’s openness to peace, the 1998 Good Friday Accords did bring and end to “the troubles,” although there are still some folks on both sides in Northern Ireland who seem tempted to violence (although only God knows if the situation there or in Lebanon is more precarious — and God is working in both places to get people to reconcile, but He won’t force them).
Recently Pope Francis asked everyone to pray for peace between Russia and the Ukraine on January 26. As of press time for the edition of The Anchor, it seems that this has worked, but we need to keep on praying that war be avoided there and that war be ended in so many other places (Yemen and Ethiopia being among the worse two situations in the world, at the moment).
This past Sunday, Pope Francis, discussed Jesus’ rejection by the people of Nazareth (Lk 4:21-30). The pope noted that Jesus’ words show that this “failure was not entirely unexpected. He knew His people, He knew the heart of His people, He knew the risk He was running, He took rejection into account. And, so, we might wonder: but if it was like this, if He foresaw a failure, why did He go to His hometown all the same? Why do good to people who are not willing to accept you? It is a question that we too often ask ourselves. But it is a question that helps us understand God better. Faced with our closures, He does not withdraw: He does not put brakes on His love. Faced with our closures, He goes forward. We see a reflection of this in parents who are aware of the ingratitude of their children, but do not cease to love them and do good to them for this. God is the same, but at a much higher level. And today He invites us too to believe in good, to leave no stone unturned in doing good.”
God loves the people on both sides of every conflict. He died on the cross for each of them (each of us). He is actively knocking on the door of every heart, to see if we will “prepare Him room.” Since He will leave no stone unturned, nor should we. We need to rededicate ourselves daily to carrying out His will of love.
To carry out God’s will, we need to look for how He is present before us. The Holy Father observed about Jesus, “He presents Himself as we would not expect. He is not found by those who seek miracles — if we look for miracles, we will not find Jesus — by those who seek new sensations, intimate experiences, strange things; those who seek a faith made up of power and external signs. No, they will not find Him. Instead, He is found only by those who accept His ways and His challenges, without complaint, without suspicion, without criticism and long faces. In other words, Jesus asks you to accept Him in the daily reality that you live; in the Church of today, as it is; in those who are close to you every day; in the reality of those in need, in the problems of your family, in your parents, in your children, in grandparents, in welcoming God there. He is there, inviting us to purify ourselves in the river of availability and in many healthy baths of humility [this is a reference the healing of Naaman, the Syrian leper, that Jesus mentioned to the people of Nazareth, to their annoyance]. It takes humility to encounter God, to let ourselves be encountered by Him.”
Our own working to do that here will both help to lessen tensions in our own country and help to spread the power of God’s peace throughout this world. “The Lord always surprises us: this is the beauty of the encounter with Jesus… [T]he Lord asks us for an open mind and a simple heart. May Our Lady, model of humility and willingness, show us the way to welcome Jesus.” Jesus and Mary surprised us with the fall of the Berlin Wall. May we be open to the surprises they long to bring to our world, if we open our hearts to receive them. They have a lot of good news for us to spread, by our words and (even more so) by our actions.