Palm Sunday rally for peace
CLAUDE MOSTOWIK MSC
Jesus is cheered as he enters Jerusalem and then shortly after is betrayed. Earlier, looking over Jerusalem, he wept over its injustice, violence and complicity with war-making. Rather than give up he took action. Many of us have recently shed tears, felt grief and experienced depression. We take up where he left off. ‘The first job of a citizen is to keep your mouth open.’ [Gunter Grass]. As our country wages war on Iraq, we follow the Peaceful One who weeps over war and acts for peace.
When Jesus enters the temple, he cleanses it. Things are turned upside down. If Jesus were to ‘look around at everything’ today what would he see? What temples need to be cleansed—or told that their time is over? As we gather today, many innocents have perished in Iraq. They have suffered repression and the effects of weapons of mass destruction unleashed over 12 years as a result of UN sanctions.
Today we make a strong statement that a different world is possible where sisterhood/brotherhood of people is honoured; the dignity of all respected, and saying that ‘Peace is the only battle worth waging.’ [Camus]. We have been taken into a fictitious war on terror leading to hatred, fear, suspicion and divisiveness. A ‘them’ and ‘us’ mentality has emerged.
I am proud to be with you today and be in solidarity with other community represent-atives. What we model today can become a reality throughout the world, so that there will be genuine peace and the recognition of the dignity and rights of all people.
Australia has invaded another country. The churches did not support it. There was no clear mandate from the Australian people. US efforts to legitimize this invasion by bribing, buying off and coercing small countries to join them failed. If only we could put as much effort into what makes for peace.
The Coalition of the Willing leaders thought they could bring peace to Iraq. Really? Peace out of brutal invasion! Death and destruction of people and environment is no peace.
Martin Luther King said, ‘a time comes when silence is betrayal’. This is a powerful witness. We are part of an unprecedented superpower of peace that is for the first time questioning the legitimacy of war.
Today we remember the journey of the suffering Jesus toward Jerusalem. This man of peace presents us with the choice of living together in a nonviolent and peaceful way. Not to respond will take us down the road of history reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without vision. Can we commit to the long, daily and beautiful struggle for the healing of our world and relationships?
Pope John Paul II said recently,
Violence and weapons can never resolve [our problems and] it is even more urgent to proclaim, with a strong and decisive voice, that peace alone is the way to construct a just and caring society.
In these difficult days, we stand up publicly in Jesus’ spirit of non-violence. We practice prophetic nonviolence by breaking the silence of the churches and the complicity of the masses—to speak the truth of peace and pursue nonviolent responses to conflict. We denounce our involvement in war and announce a new Time of Peace: a peace that comes from justice.
We can listen without judgment; trust without fear, struggle for peace even when it seems to elude us. May we have the vision to be builders of the human community by trying to understand the fears and hopes of others. May we expand our hearts to care for the suffering people of Afghanistan and Iraq, of Palestine and Israel as well as for ourselves. May we resist the temptations of power, refuse to attack the vulnerable, to understand that vengeance breeds violence, and to bring peace wherever we go.
—April 13, 2003.