July 31, 2016
My family trip to Europe over the past weeks was certainly an overwhelming confrontation with the growing turbulence of terrorism. The destabilizing and war-like attacks have become so numerous that for some, Pokemon Go and its “augmented reality” has been a welcome relief.
But signs of hope have also been popping up during this past week. In response to the gruesome killing of the French priest, the Rev. Jacques Hamel in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, Normandy, last week, the Catholic Church of France has called their members to make today, Friday July 29, into a day of fasting and prayer. This spiritual response to ISIS-terror is not just meant to be non-violent in kind, but it is also appealing to the level of change that is needed. These kinds of abhorrent violence, that are plunging Europe into a state of war, can only be uprooted where they germinate: in the hearts of people.
Numerous people have decided to join this day of fasting and prayer. The Chief Rabbi of France, Haim Korsia, has announced that he will personally join this spiritual initiative. And the Muslim Council of France has responded in kind: all Muslims of France are called to go to mass this Sunday to join Christians in worship, to express compassion for the inflicted pain and suffering, and to show unity as citizens.
Slowly religious leaders are forging a bond of hope, transcending the differences and creating a covenant of dialogue that breaks down fear and hostility. This is a new turn of events, maybe still fragile, but perhaps a crucial one. Another type of “augmented reality,” not a digital one, but a renewed religious one is being built in the hearts of people. As faith communities we indeed need to be instruments that generate powers of hope and compassion and renewal. I pray that at Trinity we are able to join this hopeful trend amid the turmoil of our age.
It is so good to be back home and I am ready to continue the blessed labor of building community and faith. I very much look forward to seeing you soon. God’s peace.