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One of the most obvious facts about our world today is fragmentation, separation, people, as it were, divided into separate, warring, and competing groups. This tragic condition prevails at almost every level of life. We can observe it on a national and international scale. How many borders are there in our world that are watched on both sides by guards carrying guns? A carefully watched border can mean only one thing: the nations on either side are divided. They do not trust each other.
Today our own nation is fighting the war on terrorism. Hundreds of thousands of our young men and women are defending our nation on foreign soil. They are putting their lives on the line for our safety and freedom. Hundreds of thousands more are risking their lives to provide homeland security.
But of course division among people does not end at the borders of nations. Walk into the heart of any nation and one will find all kinds of divisions going on: racial, economic, religious, and social. This holds true even within homes, the basic unit of every social order; there too divisions prevail. Husbands and wives hardly speaking with one another. Parents and children with virtually no lines of communication between them. People were created by God to be in one another’s arms and yet at times they are at one another’s throats!
Often people speak of this as a crazy world. That is an apt description in light of what goes on. eg: The tragic and barbaric beheading of the young American journalist, James Foley, by ISIS.
What our world needs today is someone who can teach us how to live together. St. Paul recognized this same need centuries ago and he wrote about it in his letter to the Ephesians. He reminded them of the enmity that once existed between the Jews and Gentiles. He called it ‘the barrier of hostility’.
It seems that, that wall still exists as a psychological and spiritual reality in the lives of many men and women and nations. We desperately need St. Paul’s reminder that Jesus has broken it down. At the very heart of the message of Jesus are some basic principles which, if properly understood and followed, would bridge all the gaps and break down all the walls that separate people from people.
Sometimes it seems that it would be a good idea to preach nothing but that until, hopefully, it sinks into and saturates the minds and hearts of us all. Most of the world believes in one God in theory. But in practice it is another matter altogether. How can it be possible for two nations to go to war, both of them praying to the same God for the protection of their people and victory of their cause? Or how is it that people in the same family or community can hate one another?
Listen to St. Paul; “In his flesh Jesus abolished the law to create in Himself one new man from us who have been two, and to make peace, reconciling both of us to God in one body through His cross which put that enmity to death”. You and I and all humanity are blood brothers and sisters; and by that I do not mean the blood of a common parentage. I mean we are all brother and sisters in the blood of Christ. He died for us all. How then could we stand in the shadow of His cross with a dying Jesus nailed to it, and hate each other and hurt each other, and even kill each other?
As we are about to enter into a new season I urge you to pray for peace within our family, among nations, and within our world. Remember the power of the Christian message and that prayer can and will move mountains!
Father Robert F. Grippo