Speak Lord: Heal us, unite us

That night had been foretold to our ancestors, so that, once they saw what kind of oaths they had put their trust in, they would joyfully take courage.

This was the expectation of your people, the saving of the virtuous and the ruin of their enemies; for by the same act with which you took vengeance on our foes you made us glorious by calling us to you.

The devout children of worthy men offered sacrifice in secret and this divine pact they struck with one accord: that the saints would share the same blessings and dangers alike; and forthwith they had begun to chant the hymns of the fathers.

First reading for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Wisdom 18:6-9

Faith can turn ugly when it has us claim God as our God only, and turns us against our neighbour.

One of the problematics with the Old Testament is the way in which God sets his people against others. There are passages that seem to justify genocide!

And yet, at the same time, the meta-narrative is that this is not the way it was – or is – supposed to be.

Israel is chosen from among the nations not to be set against the nations but for the nations, an instrument of God’s peace. By learning to live faithfully Israel is intended to win the nations back to God so all will be one…

Some hope. But that, precisely, is the hope.

The story of that hope for reconciliation begins with the Jewish scriptures and continues into the story of Christianity… Reconciliation is achieved in Christ but remains incomplete here and now…

Photograph (C) Allen Morris. Stained glass, St Mary Abbot’s church, Kensington, London.

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