Today is Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. It is a day for asking forgiveness and offering it. It is a high holy day. It is also the day Pope Francis is scheduled to meet with the President of the United States. Could this be a day when something in the universe shifts?
I don’t know, and the truth is we won’t know for a while even if it does. Unless it is an act of terrible, explosive, life-shattering violence, it is hard to know. Shifts toward goodness, grace, reconciliation, and hope seem to be far more subtle and imperceptible, but we can pray.
There is so much bitterness and division and animosity in our world. So much of it seems to spring from the daughters and sons of Abraham and Sarah: the Jews, the Muslims, and the Christians. Could their children and grandchildren also find the will for peace and reconciliation? Are we forever doomed to hate and kill our sisters and brothers? Oh, I know; they are the ones trying to kill us … except they feel we are the ones taking all the good stuff of the earth and leaving their children the waterless sand.
Children of Sarah and Abraham, it is enough. Enough violence. Enough hatred. Enough misunderstandings. There is enough food and water and education and medicine for all our children. We must learn to share, to forgive, to love, to play together.
It is tempting for us to think that they are crazy to be so violent and suicidal, but we never pause for even one moment to ask how we have crazed them by our constant consumption, taking their oil at any price. Our best friends, the Saudi Arabians, won’t let women even drive; they behead their enemies every day; they don’t allow free press; they enabled the terrorists of 9/11; they publically stripped and beat homosexuals just last week. Why are they our friends?
So we sell them weapons to ensure their people stay repressed. We have done that time and time again, but they are crazy to hate us?
There is blame enough and to spare. We cannot repent for them. We can start calling our own nation to some honesty, though. Only then can we begin the process of genuine reconciliation. Could this be a moment when things begin to shift for the daughters and sons of Sarah and Abraham? Are we ready to let some things begin to shift in our own hearts?
Rev. Michael Piazza