Thursday, July 14, 2016

We wait for peace, to no avail

Have you really cast Judah off?
Is Zion loathsome to you?
Why have you struck us a blow
that cannot be healed?
We wait for peace, to no avail;
for a time of healing, but terror comes instead. — Jeremiah 14:19

I have prayed the Liturgy of the Hours for more than 30 years, reciting these words hundreds of times.  When I read the news about Nice tonight, this verset from Jeremiah arose without conscious thought.   "We wait for peace, to no avail."

Instead we have arrived at a liturgy for terror and violence.  Tricolor filters are starting to appear on Facebook (and doubtless Twitter, though I haven't looked), and so we vest our social media selves for the liturgy:  We stand with Nice, we say.  We are praying for Nice, we post.  We make the sign,  #PrayForNice.  Amen, amen.

We could make a litany of these liturgies.  Baltimore. Baton Rouge. Brussels.  Orlando. Dallas.  Nice.

The rest of the 14th chapter of Jeremiah is dark, I read it tonight looking for the light, shining through the cracks. I could find none.  Then a friend reminded me that in the end, light overcomes the darkness.  Evil, she said, cannot prevail.

"Know where you stand and stand there," said the late Daniel Berrigan SJ.  I know where I stand, in the face of hateful language, in the face of those who would trammel the poor, in the face of a culture that obsesses about which sunscreen is the safest, while in a single year 33,000 people are shot to death - nearly 2,000 of them children.  I stand for peace, as naive and as impractical and ineffectual as that sounds.

Tomorrow at Morning Prayer, the canticle the Church will pray is this pericope from Jeremiah.  We pray, the Body of Christ wincing from the blows that have struck us, filling up what is lacking in the suffering of Christ.

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