A Bad Day Amid the Ruble

Yesterday was a pretty crappy day! Anyone paying attention would have to conclude that we are in pretty dire straits.

Long gone is the consoling image of Pope Francis’ head pressed in prayer against the wall separating Israel and Palestine on the road to Bethlehem. Who even remembers Pentecost Sunday with Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew hosting Presidents Abbas and Peres in a prayer for peace?

Now Israel has begun a massive ground offensive in Gaza, a passenger plane was shot down in the Ukraine leaving some to say the pilots should have known better than to fly over a war zone, all the while Iraq implodes leading me to wonder what the hell is the point of tens of billions of US dollars and tens of thousands of human lives!

Our collective anxiety and national paranoia are epitomized in the White House lockdown yesterday because an unattended package was found on the lawn. It turned out to be nothing!

On our fenced borders a humanitarian crisis unfolds as children relegate us to bumbling and blundering about an appropriate response. Some would send drones to patrol the border reinforced with even higher fences. They would fast-track legislation to close porous loopholes in US immigration policy.  For God’s sake (literally), it’s not as simple as all that!

Before these zealous protectors of the “American way” adjust their flag lapel pins or a candidate requests another contribution from a faith-based PAC I would ask two things. Please, review your own family history and immigrant roots — why did your family come? … how were they received?

Instead of going to church services this Sunday I propose that more of us stay home and silently pray with Scripture instead. We would do well to begin with Mt 2:13-23, the Flight into Egypt.

Those familiar with the practice of Ignatian mediation might want to assume in prayer the role of the innkeeper — hearing ourselves say, feeling in our own managerial hearts, “There is no room here for you in our inn.”

Or, reenact with Francis the trek to Bethlehem.  Pick a wall, any wall in your home will do.  Press your head against it in silent prayer.  Absorb the tension and anxiety of Mary and Joseph as they traveled this route.  What were their aspirations, what does every child — Israeli, Palestinian, Iraqi, American, Guatemalan, Ukrainian — deserve?

Yes, there is plenty of evidence to indicate the world is a mess and hurting. Despair is one response. Feeling impotent is understandable. Shaking our heads in disbelief is not an option!


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