Read this week's message from Father Don
The horrifying photos from Israel and Gaza have been in the news all week, photos of Israelis slaughtered and Palestinians bombed. As Christians, how are we to make sense of this brutal conflict?
The Middle East is one of the earliest inhabited areas in the world. It has, throughout its long history, been the home of many different peoples with varying cultures and religions. Sometimes the diverse population coexisted peacefully and other times they fought against each other.
Countless different regimes have ruled larger or smaller portions of the territory: Canaanites, Moabites, Jews, Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, various Islamic dynasties, even medieval Christians for a short time. Invasions, wars, shifting alliances, and displaced peoples, have been a constant reality in the Middle East for millenia.
While the Middle East is a uniquely problematic region, an on-going pattern of violent conflict between peoples can be found in virtually every area of the world. Why this should be so is not difficult to determine.
Human beings are fallen creatures. When Adam and Eve refused obedience to God, the cooperative relationship between themselves was broken. They covered themselves with fig leaves because they no longer trusted each other. Selfishness, resentment, jealousy, anger, and hatred arose in humankind. The world no longer appeared to be a safe place cared for by a loving God, but rather a dangerous place where it was “every man for themselves.”
The sinful human behaviours that produce armed conflict on the global scale are the same behaviours we observe in our own families, our workplaces, and ourselves. Selfishness is the ultimate cause of both domestic conflict and war.
When Jesus commanded us to love our neighbour as ourselves (Mark 12.31) he was calling us to conversion and pointing out the way to heal divisions not only between individuals but between nations. Without conversion it is difficult to see how any real progress can be made toward peace in the Middle East. Self-giving love for people different from ourselves is the only way forward.