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World Day of Prayer for Peace-‘makers’

By Sarah Mac Donald - 01 January, 2016

Fr Damian McNeiceHow many times in recent years have innocent victims of war in the Middle East asked the human family ‘Where is your response? Are you indifferent to our suffering?’ a senior Dublin priest has challenged at a Mass to mark ‘World Day of Prayer for Peace’.

In his homily in the Church of Our Lady of Succour on Friday in the Dublin suburb of Foxrock, Fr Damian McNeice said, “men, women and children suffer because of weapons of mass destruction and we fail to respond, seduced by weapons of mass distraction” such as social media feeds.

Fr McNeice, who is Chair of the Dublin Council of Churches, recalled Pope Francis’ warning that, “Today’s information explosion does not of itself lead to an increased concern for other people’s problems… Indeed, the information glut can numb people’s sensibilities…”

He added that an itchy finger on the remote control chooses another channel when faced with responding to people’s suffering.

The Pope, he said, wants to encourage everyone not to lose hope in “our human ability to overcome evil and indifference” and “not to lose trust in our capacity to show solidarity”.

Exhorting people not be indifferent, he quoted the Pope’s words, “God is not indifferent! God cares… God does not abandon us!”

Indifference, he described as, closing our eyes to what is happening and turning aside to avoid encountering other people’s problems and he underlined that it is not something new in humanity. “It is as old as Cain protesting ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’” he said.

“In our day, Pope Francis notices a certain ‘globalisation of indifference’, being so self-absorbed and feeling so self-sufficient that we become indifferent to the sufferings of our neighbour, indifferent to the damage we do to the environment, indifferent to God and our hearts grow cold.”

He warned that we can be very well informed of what’s going on in the world, thanks to the media, but at times we won’t allow ourselves to be truly moved with compassion.

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus challenges those who “pass by on the other side” and fail to help our sisters and brothers in their suffering.

Referring to the Beatitudes, he highlighted that Jesus does not say: ‘blessed are those who admire peace’. He does not say ‘blessed are those who like peace or even those who love peace’. He taught ‘Blessed are the peacemakers.’

What is clear in this Gospel teaching is the emphasis is on “peace-making, going to places where there are wounds and suffering, on the peripheries, where there is need of reconciliation and healing and taking a risk – standing to lose something in order to work for the creation of peace”.

He said that to choose to be a peace maker, you say ‘no’ to a much easier life! It requires a willingness to accept what is unpleasant, imperfect and negative around you – and yet to go to that place and to choose to walk with others, to be a bearer of God’s peace, precisely there.

“Mindful that Christ Jesus himself is our peace , that he has destroyed enmity and the wall of hatred, what is He proclaiming to us, as we face the centenary of the 1916 proclamation? It is a document that opens with the words ‘In the name of God” and calls the children of Ireland “to sacrifice themselves for the common good.’”

“How can we invite the light of God’s face to shine through our remembering of the 1916 Rising, and the commemoration of the Battle of the Somme, so key to the identity of many on this island?” Fr McNeice challenged.

“Can we do so in a way that leads to a new springtime of the hearts of all on this island, a springtime of hope, solidarity and the common good? Can we overcome the indifference of calcified positions and together win a deeper peace?”

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