Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Voice Crying in the Wilderness--For Peace!

   When I was serving in Rome during the Jubilee year of 2000 I noticed that people would see us Franciscans on the street and greet us by saying, "Pace e Bene". That is Italian for Pax et Bonum, Peace and good will, which is the slogan of our order.  We stand for Peace, as I hope, thought I often doubt, do all Christians.

    In the world we live in today, the world of ISIS, Boko Haram, drug cartels and human trafficking, just to mention a few of the expressions of madness in our world, it can seem foolish and naive to speak of peace.  One can feel, as did John the Baptist, like a voice crying in the wilderness.

   That having been said I believe that as a Franciscan, as a Catholic, as a Christian, that I must cry out for peace in the world. The question is, "How does one do that?"  Obviously terrorists who massacre innocent people must be stopped.  I have no problem with that.  The challenge comes in asking how do we stop the cycle of violence in the world.  Realistically it probably won't be stopped until Christ comes again, but in the meantime we must try anyway and not give in to it.

   Pope Francis is setting a good example for us.  He is trying to bring together various peoples in conflict and is inviting them to move forward seeking means other than violence to resolve conflict. I pray that he has success in that endeavor. He recently suggested that there be a world council of religions to promote dialogue ad understanding between people of different faiths.  Popes and other religious leaders can speak the message of peace on a grand scale, and they do, but what about the more localized violence that is all about us? It seems that though we have made great strides in our country in overcoming racism we still have a long way to go.  The recent incidents in places like Ferguson, MO tell us that this is true.  What happened there is a case in point with the problem that we have.  Too many people over politicized and/ race baited and it was almost impossible to get to the truth.

   I love football but the recent spate of domestic abuse among NFL players and the inability of the league to confront it forcefully leaves me with my head scratching.  Domestic violence is not just an NFL problem though, it is a national and worldwide problem that we must confront.  That is also part of peacemaking

   You can see that the cry for peace does not apply only to nations at war but goes down to a very local and personal scale.  Many of you know that I post on Facebook.  That social medium is unfortunately too often a forum for rage and resentment.  At times, even when I agree with an opinion expressed I am appalled at the way it is expressed.  So many of us just shout at each other over the internet.  We have forgotten how to debate and disagree civilly.

  Peace, real Peace, the Peace that Christ came to give us, is elusive on both an international, a local and a personal scale. That has been so right from the beginning.  It is tempting to say, "Just get real. That's the way it is," but as Christians we must keep on trying even if we are seen as voices crying in the wilderness.


  1. Fr. John - you might not remember my name, but you'll remember me as the guitar player on the CTK Honduras mission. Just wanted to thank you for this blog post. My group, Campaign Nonviolence Memphis, part of the larger Pace e Bene national movement, is set to launch a week of activity next week centered around the UN International Day of Peace. I know that the Holy Spirit led you to write this at a time when I could share it with my friends - other "voices in the wilderness." Please bless our actions next week as we bless your mission in the name of the most Holy Trinity.

  2. I will certainly bless your efforts.

  3. Another home run. Thanks, Father.