February 19, 2022
Saturday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, I pause in my scriptural reflections to ask all of you to join in prayer for peace in Ukraine. As I typed today’s date, it hit me that we can’t just watch the evolution of this crisis on the news, as if it were a movie that isn’t really happening. We have a responsibility to be active peacemakers in our volatile world, and to foster a resolution that honors all human life.
I’ll tell you why Saturday’s date struck my heart so forcibly.
February 19, 1945
I was not even alive yet. I was kicking around inside my Mom and waiting to be born exactly two months later. There was joyful expectation in my family that afternoon, as you can imagine. What they did not expect was that at that very moment, my mother’s nineteen year old brother had bled to death on the shores of Iwo Jima.
When the word finally reached my family, Jimmy had already been buried at sea. The coordinates are noted in the WWII War Logs: 21°N latitude; 111° E longitude. That’s where he is buried, somewhere in the middle of the Philippine Sea. It feels so very lonely when you look at it on a map.
His death, his slaughter, wounded my mother so deeply that it reached into my incipient spirit. I never knew him, but have never forgotten, my Uncle Jim. Some of you will understand how that can be.
No young man or woman should be left alone forever at the bottom of the sea, or in an mountain gorge, or under the flaming sand. No human being should suffer and die because of war, because of the bloated egos and stunted imaginations of undraftable world leaders who pretend it is the means to peace.
It may seem that we can do little to prevent these travesties, but that’s not true. We can vote; we can lobby; we can advocate for international justice and equity that ameliorate the catalysts to war: poverty, hunger, and political and economic domination.
And we can pray.
We have the power through prayer and political action to fuel the demand for peaceful and diplomatic relationships in our world. These powerful interventions can confront our unexamined militarism and transform it.
Pope Francis has said:
“The news coming out of Ukraine is very worrying. I entrust to the intercession of the Virgin Mary, and to the conscience of political leaders, every effort on behalf of peace. Let us pray in silence.”
But the responsibility belongs to us as well. Will you join me on this Saturday of the Blessed Virgin Mary to ask her powerful intercession in this outrageous situation in Ukraine?
The following prayer was very meaningful to me and you may want to pray with it: