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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Thoughts of Peace for Remembrance Day

9 November 2014

Shared Homily Starter


First Reading:
Isaiah 2:4
Second Reading:
Romans 8:19-25
Gospel:
Matthew 5:3-11


Today, the whole of creation is certainly groaning. We know the earth and all its species, including us, are experiencing ecological devastation. Remembrance Day is in two days. It's the day we remember those who died in war. It's the day we are supposed to remember that we should no longer wage war. The first reading like today's Gospel speaks of God's design for us in that regard.

In ancient Israel, when the ruling classes forced peasants to fight their wars, unlike the military class, they were not provided with armor or weapons. Rather they had to reforge their farm tools such as pruning-hooks, hoes, rakes, and ploughs into weapons. Today's first reading refers to when we learn to live as God intended, peasants will have no need of weapons and can return the spears and swords back into tools for farming. Their tools will not longer be death-dealing but tools of life-giving. A few current statistics tells us that, although we should be, we are not there yet.

In 2013, there were 28 active armed conflicts in 25 countries.1 Currently taking place are 586 armed conflicts, not technically classified as such because the fighting isn't between nations or political parties but between militias or guerrillas within a nation over territory. Of the estimated 740,000 people who die each year from armed violence, 490,000—or the majority of these deaths—take place in these unofficial war zones. According to new research by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), the last seven years have seen a rapid deterioration in world peace. The cost of global violence stands at $9.8 trillion, as much as the economies of Britain, France, Germany and Italy combined.”2 Enough to end poverty and hunger worldwide

With statistics like these, how can we not know that the whole creation is groaning, groaning for us to help her bringing forth life-- life lived in peace. With statistics like these, it's hard to have hope. Paul is writing to the early church in Rome, but it has never been more relevant than today. Paul writes, “For in hope we are saved.” It is our hope that will return health and peace to our war-loving world. Right now things may seem hopeless but today's Gospel tells us another story. But first another look at the word “blessed.”

Throughout history, makarios (μακάριος ), the Greek word meaning “blessed”, had always referred to those who were rich and powerful. Jesus turns this upside-down. Matthew, reflecting Jesus' thoughts, uses this word in a totally different way. It is not the elite who are blessed. It is not the rich and powerful who are blessed. It is not those with the weaponry and power to wage war who are blessed. Rather, Jesus pronounces God's blessings on the the poor, the hungry, the thirsty, the meek and those in mourning.3 The elite in God's kindom, the blessed ones in God's kindom, are those who are disposable, those who are dismissed as collateral damage.

But the beatitudes are not statements about general human virtues. They do not describe different kinds of good people who get to go to heaven. They are declarations about the blessedness of a community living in accordance to God's plan. Today, that means the global community-- and like all else in Matthew, the beatitudes point to life together in the community of discipleship. There is an ethical dimension to the beatitudes. The community that hears itself pronounced blessed does not remain passive, but acts in accord with the coming kindom. Matthew's beatitudes are not practical advice for successful living, but prophetic declarations made on the conviction of the coming-and-already-present kindom of God.4 The beatitudes are promises of Jesus, who told us the kindom of God is within us. So what this means for us today is that we are to nurture that kindom of God within us. We are cultivate peace within ourselves individually and-- as communities, support each other in this.

This Remembrance Day, let us remember that it is only through internal transformation that we become co-creators of the peaceable kindom. It is not through desiring others to change or through changing the our external circumstances that we will achieve peace and happiness. Rather, it is through committing ourselves to the process of inner transformation that we may become better human beings with each passing day; more conscious and compassionate. This is the way we are gradually transformed and endowed with extraordinary possibilities to transform creation's groaning into the joy of a renewed creation, where nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.


Question: What do you do to cultivate inner peace?


1Http://www.ploughshares.ca
2“Cost of global violence and conflict reaches $1,350 per person” RT Question More. 19 June 2014 Retrieved 11 November 2014 from http://on.rt.com/hwcdf1
3Stoffregen, Brian P. "The History of the Word "Makarios" ("Blessed"). Crossmarks Christian Resources. Accessed 7 November 2014 from http://www.crossmarks.com/brian/allsaintb.htm
4Ibid.

 


Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Book Release

On October 15, 2014, my book, Transforming Addiction, was published.  


Addiction is a problem of concern in many communities around the globe.  Assorted strategies have been studied or implemented to address the problem with varied amounts of success. This study investigates spirituality, a largely unexplored factor in recovery from addictions, and its role in the learning processes that transformed the participants from addicts to abstainers.  In addition to examining sociological factors, this study explores the questions of how powerlessness and surrender translate into sobriety as well as the motivation to help others in the recovery process.  Through exploring the participants’ stories, this study deepens understanding of the role of spirituality in recovery from addictions and presents spirituality as the catalyst that led the participants to undertake compassionate service with people still in active addiction. This exploration should provide new insights into addiction issues for health care professionals, spiritual leaders, students of the social sciences and anyone concerned about addiction and recovery issues.

Click on the here to check it out on amazon.com