Holy Mass for Peace in the Middle East (22 July 2006)
H.E. Mgr. Camillo Ballin, Vicar Apostolic of Kuwait
"Jesus then said to Peter: Put your sword back, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword" (Mt 26,52).
Dear brothers and sisters,
The true and constant peace of Jesus Christ be with you.
This evening we came to this church to pray together for peace in Lebanon, Gaza, Israel, Iraq and in all the world, and for those who suffer and die every day because of violence, war and destruction. We all believe that God the Creator, Lord of the life and of the death, wants that all the peoples live as in one family, enjoying justice and freedom, and whose Constitution is only one: Love!
That's why we read in the Holy Bible that Jesus Christ, during his public life on earth, "went about doing good and curing all who had fallen into the power of the devil" (Acts 10,38).
Few days ago the power of the devil appeared in a horrifying and painful way. Unjust attacks, violent hostilities, brutal and destroying war are taking people without mercy and moderation and trample on the human rights, on the divine laws and on justice and equity. Houses are destroyed over the families in Lebanon, Gaza and Haifa, and in both the areas people are scattered and their life is shoot by bombs and missiles. And unfortunately the children are the most victims of those massacres. What is their mistake in this war of the adults!? The cruelty of the war end to these innocents like the ferocious vulture and devours them daily in Lebanon, Gaza, Haifa and Iraq! 50% of the victims of the aggressions are children! And those who escaped from death have to face the problems of dispersion and to endure the ever greater lack of medicines, health care, food and water. In Galilee, the population is spending their whole day in small shelters because of the attacks launched by Hezbollah and Hamas.
What can we say in front of this theater of death? Jesus Christ teaches us through the Apostle Peter when he tried to use violence in Getsemani: "Put your sword back, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword" (Mt 26,52), i.e. don't use violence because violence kills you! More than that, Jesus Christ teaches us that his disciples should love their enemies. He said: "You have heard how it was said: You will love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say this to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you For if you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Do not even the tax collectors do as much" (Mt 5,43.46). The words of Jesus about the non-violence are confirmed by the experience of the mankind since the very beginning of its history. War never solved any problem, on the contrary, it left behind it hatred, violence and divisions among the people and the nations. Therefore, we have to support, as Pope Benedict the XVIth said, the communiqué of the G-8 which called Israel, the Palestinians and the armed branch of Hezbollah to stop the attacks and to release those who are detained by all the sides. Pope Benedict the XVIth asked for "an immediate cease-fire between the sides, for humanitarian corridors to be opened in order to bring help to the suffering peoples, and for reasonable and responsible negotiations to begin to put an end to objective situations of injustice that exist in that region".
He said also that "the Lebanese have the right to see the integrity and sovereignty of their country respected, the Israelis the right to live in peace in their State, and the Palestinians have the right to have their own free and sovereign homeland".
We know that neither the attacks nor killing or imprisonment or reprisal can bring us peace. They bring us despair and death.
Now it is required from every country to make all the diplomatic efforts to stop the noise of the weapons and to put all the sides to the table of the negotiations. I invite all the ambassadors who came to participate to this prayer to remember their respective country the demand of peace and so of the stopping the war in the area.
At the same time I would like to remember all that there will be no step towards peace if we don't pray with all our heart. Only God is the source of the true peace. Therefore, Pope Benedict the XVIth invited all the Catholic Church in the world to pray and to fast today for peace in the Middle East. Only God is able to change the heart and the mind of the belligerents, so we have to pray with deep confidence that He gives peace and comprehension between those who are in conflict, the eternal rest to those who died, consolation and spirit of forgiveness to their families, patience to all and peace based on justice to all the countries.
As what He did during His public life in this world, Jesus Christ, like the good Samaritan, He is also today near every person injured in his body and spirit in order to console him and to put hope in his heart and his life.
Let us put ourselves in Jesus' hands because He is the prince of peace. He said:
"Blessed are the peacemakers, they shall be recognized as children of God" (Mt 5,9).
Dear brothers and sisters, this is what in the heart and mind of the Catholic Church for what is happening now in the Middle East. I thank you for your coming. Bless God you all and every one who works to better the human life.
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