Monday, May 27, 2013


Pope John Paul II

Jesus Blesses the Children - by Pacecco De Rosa 1630
On Memorial Day what do we remember?   Do we remember those we’ve known who’ve died on war’s bloody battlefield?  Those of us who were born after 1945 don’t have much recognition.  How many Americans have been in the hellish firefight?   There sure have been those who’ve died for country, in Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf, Iraq, Afghanistan.  We back home are more likely to know those wounded in body and spirit returning—eventually 500,000 of those from Vietnam {50,000 U.S. soldiers killed there} died early stateside, drugs or suicide, as lingering effect of the death they’d been part of.
The vast majority of us don’t know war, only get brief shallow glimpses, patriotic portraits provided by our media.  War is hell.  Certainly soldiers, and some civilians, have courageously given their lives for others.  And this is true on both sides of every war.  Meanwhile modern war kills multitudes of civilians who just get in the way.  The carnage civilian & soldier, since the Civil War all on foreign soil except for 911, has been horrific to the relatively few in our country who’ve witnessed it.

Listen to the words of Chris Hedges Pulitzer prize correspondent who’s been one of the closest to our soldiers in recent wars. {from Murder Is not an Anomaly in War}.
“The fear and stress, the anger and hatred, reduce all Afghans to the enemy, and this includes women, children and the elderly. … Robert Bales, a U.S. Army staff sergeant who {on a personal shooting rampage in Mar. 2012} allegedly killed 16 civilians in two Afghan villages, including nine children, is not an anomaly. To decry the butchery of this case and to defend the wars of occupation we wage is to know nothing about combat.”

What should Christian people, who want to follow Jesus, remember about war, the fight for God and country?   War is a morass of many murders.  We cannot judge the individual acts, but killing in God’s name is not of Jesus, nor is paying for others to do so.  When a country makes a call to war there is a choice to be made, between God and country.  These are hard words in our society, in any society, but this is the Gospel truth.  We need to continually read and pray the Gospels, asking Jesus to inspire in us the truth of His nonviolent merciful love.

o kill in God’s name, as if God desires or wills it, is serious sin, counter to the very nature of God revealed by Jesus the Son of God.  To kill for nation or self-preservation is blasphemy, takes the name of God the all-merciful in vain.  In the service of God and country, for the Christian—God always comes first.  [I wrote this paragraph a couple weeks ago—with great encouragement now received in the paragraph below.]

 Pope Francis, new pope of the Catholic Church, issued thepast week a fundamental challenge to the faithful.
“This ‘closing off’ that imagines that those outside, everyone, cannot do good is a wall that leads to war and also to what some people throughout history have conceived of: killing in the name of God,” Francis said Wednesday (May 22) in remarks at the informal morning Mass that he celebrates in the chapel at the Vatican guesthouse where he lives.
“And that, simply, is blasphemy. To say that you can kill in the name of God is blasphemy.”
The pope speaks of a heretical blasphemy, dishonoring God by saying something is God’s nature, that isn’t.

Let’s remember who God is this Memorial Day, the God of Peace Eternal Love and Mercy, and become blessed as peacemakers, God’s son and daughters.

Illumination by Kathy Brahney



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