It seems that human beings have not learned the lessons of the past. We have short memories. Once again, the followers of Jesus Christ are to take up the cause of peace and justice. As Christians, I think we begin with the admonition in the Letter of James [3:13-18 (Common English Bible)]:
"Are any of you wise and understanding? Show that your actions are good with a humble lifestyle that comes from wisdom. However, if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, then stop bragging and living in ways that deny the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above. Instead, it is from the earth, natural and demonic. Wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there is disorder and everything that is evil. What of the wisdom from above? First, it is pure, and then peaceful, gentle, obedient, filled with mercy and good actions, fair, and genuine. Those who make peace sow the seeds of justice by their peaceful acts."
With such an attitude, we prepare ourselves for the days ahead.
When Jesus sets the standard of true happiness [in Matthew 5:3-12 (Common English Bible)], it is measured by care, mercy and righteousness:
"Happy are people who are hopeless, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs. Happy are people who grieve, because they will be made glad. Happy are people who are humble, because they will inherit the earth. Happy are people who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness, because they will be fed until they are full. Happy are people who show mercy, because they will receive mercy. Happy are people who have pure hearts, because they will see God. Happy are people who make peace, because they will be called God's children. Happy are people whose lives are harassed because they are righteous, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs. Happy are you when people insult you and harass you and speak all kinds of bad and false things about you, all because of me. Be full of joy and be glad, because you have a great reward in heaven. In the same way, people harassed the prophets who came before you."
It is such happiness that changes lives, heals the broken and transforms the world. There is no room for war and hate in God's world.
So, to prepare for the days ahead, I call upon all Episcopalians in Hawai'i and Micronesia to say these two prayers aloud everyday from now until November 30:
1. Prayer for Peace Among the Nations (BCP page 816): "Almighty God our heavenly Father, guide the nations of the world into the way of justice and truth, and establish among them that peace which is the fruit of righteousness, that they may become the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen."
2. Prayer for Social Justice (BCP page 823): "Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart and especially the hearts of the people of the United States, that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
In addition, I ask that these two prayers both be said at the conclusion of the Prayers of the People as the "Concluding Collects" at Sunday celebrations of the Holy Eucharist through the Last Sunday after Pentecost (Christ the King Sunday).
We must be prepared to face hate with love and war with peace. The effort will be to love. As Dorthy Day urged:
"LOVE AND EVER MORE LOVE is the only solution to every problem that comes up. If we love each other enough, we will bear with each other's faults and burdens. If we love enough, we are going to light that fire in the hearts of others. And it is love that will burn out the sins and hatreds that sadden us. It is love that will make us want to do great things for each other. No sacrifice and no suffering will then seem too much. Yes, I see only too clearly how bad people are. I wish I did not see it so. It is my own sins that give me such clarity. If I did not bear the scars of so many sins to dim my sight and dull my capacity for love and joy, then I would see Christ more clearly in you all. I cannot worry much about your sins and miseries when I have so many of my own. I can only love you all, poor fellow travelers, fellow sufferers. I do not want to add one least straw to the burden you already carry. My prayer from day to day is that God will so enlarge my heart that I will see you all, and live with you all, in his love"
The Reckless Way of Love: Notes on Following Jesus excerpts from the writing Jesus excerpts from the writing of Dorothy Day as edited by Carolyn Kurtz and published by Plough Publishing House Walden, NY, 2017).
Your brother in Christ Jesus,
The Rt. Rev. Robert L. Fitzpatrick, Bishop
The Episcopal Diocese of Hawai'i and
The Episcopal Church in Micronesia