Crusaders For Love

Be compassionate, as God is compassionate.
From Luke 6:36

On this Eve of Ash Wednesday, my thoughts turn to my visit to the ancient city of Akko in Israel. Today, numerous Muslims and Christians live, work and worship in this town while coexisting in harmony. This peaceful setting provided a refreshing retreat from the troubles of the outside world. Still, Akko’s long history, which began more than 1000 years before Christ, is punctuated with violent interludes.

As is the case with many of Israel’s cities, Akko’s location made it an attractive conquest for those seeking a local stronghold or a gateway to Jerusalem. Unfortunately, Crusaders punctuated Akko’s history with conquests and losses which led to much bloodshed. Though the Crusaders fought with seemingly lofty intent, their presence in this place failed to inspire peace. These warriors who claimed to fight in the name of God’s Church often proved to be crude men who ravaged the localities in which they found themselves without reservation. It didn’t take much to imagine what the local citizenry likely thought of these efforts. Though I was struck with amazement as I walked through the well-preserved Crusader stronghold, I also shuddered as I considered the evil-doing which occurred there.

We need only to reference today’s news here and throughout the world to question much of what we humans purport to do in God’s name. Sometimes, we need only to look back at our own day. Do any of us actually believe that we serve God by harming one another? If we believe what we say we believe, that “other” is also one of God’s children.

As I consider how I’ll spend Lent 2018, I must look at Jesus’ life among us for some pointers.

Loving God, help us to love one another as Jesus taught us.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Make Peace, Not War

Justice shall flower in his days
and profound peace, till the moon be no more.

Psalm 72:7

In Israel, we visited as many sites as possible every day. Our day in Akko was no exception. When we climbed onto the bus afterward, I was grateful for the opportunity to absorb all that we’d just experienced. I offered a silent prayer in thanksgiving for this and for our guide Yossi. His musical interludes dispelled our fatigue and opened our hearts to the beauty and truths and questions and reflection inspired by every encounter.

Akko had certainly given me much to think about. I was completely taken by the peaceful environs in which Muslims and Christians live and worship together there. Still, I was troubled by the woes which preceded the peaceful coexistence they enjoy today. As is the case with many of Israel’s cities, Akko’s location made it an attractive conquest to those seeking a local stronghold or a gateway to Jerusalem. Unfortunately, Crusader’s punctuated Akko’s history with conquests and losses which led to much bloodshed. Though the Crusades were fought with seemingly lofty intent, current events here and throughout the world compel me to question much of what we humans purport to do in God’s name. Do any of us actually believe that we serve God by harming and even taking the life of another? After all, if we believe what we say we believe, that “other” is also one of God’s children.

Merciful God, please forgive my repetition as I ask once again that you make each of us an instrument of your peace.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved