As I pen these few words for the 2023 Christmas Edition of Síocháin, awful events are taking place in the Middle East. Thousands of innocent people – men, women and children – have been killed in the ongoing conflict there. The one and only time that I visited the Holy Land, there was “relative” peace and stability in the region. Pilgrims from all over the world were able to visit the holy places associated with Jesus Christ: his birth in Bethlehem and his subsequent life, death and resurrection.
It is all a far cry from the sentiments expressed by the Evangelist St. Luke in the Second Chapter of his Gospel: “And suddenly there was with the angel, a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace and good will towards all”.
Naturally, daily efforts are being made by the leaders of many nations to try and bring peace. Their task is immense. We may be physically far removed from these awful scenes, but in the privacy of our living rooms, we see what is unfolding on our television screens.
May I conclude with some lines of St. Francis of Assisi’s famous prayer: “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.”
In wishing you a peaceful and happy Christmas, dear Reader, I hope and pray that – sooner rather than later – there will be some kind of peace and an end to all kinds of conflict in all the troubled parts of our world.
Fr. Joseph Kennedy