Friday, May 8, 2009

The Pope, And The Impotent Pilgrimage

Pope Benedict XVI has departed on a Mideast pilgrimage of peace. His first stop will be in Amman, Jordan to meet with Muslim religious leaders; then onto Israel where he will meet with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders. What isn’t clear is if he will be meeting with anyone who will actually want to meet with him. Local Catholic religious leaders have already been quoted as saying they will be on edge with every word that will be spoken. In 2006, the Muslim community made life very difficult for the Catholics and Christians that remained in the region, and their fear is that the same sort of rhetoric will again leave them dealing with the aftermath.

The underlying narrative of the Middle East today is political and religious violence. Pope Benedict XVI lands into a family feud that has gone on for thousands of years. This may be an oversimplification of the facts but the Ishmaelites (the Arabs), and the descendants of Isaac (the Israelites) have been fighting over the same promise land since it was promised to their father Abraham thousands of years ago. The scriptural truth is that God promised to prosper both sons (Gen. 21), and he has. The question has always been who has a right to the promise. No government envoy, ambassador, celebrity, pope, preacher or pilgrimage will fix this one. It’s all been attempted. What is very clear in ancient scriptures, is that God loves both peoples. The difference in the way Jesus handled the situation when he traveled, was to change one person’s life at a time, feeding crowds, healing children and talking about his father. He wasn’t trying to make two religions come together in peace; he was showing who God was in his every day actions. This is where the real change takes place; this is how nations are touched.

While the pope talks about peace, prays in mosques, and apologizes for past remarks; thousands are frightened and homeless fleeing the bloodshed in Pakistan. Would Jesus be in Jordan trying to get along with people who didn’t want to talk or see him, or would he be in Pakistan or Sudan healing children, feeding crowds and talking about his father.

When there is justice to be done you’ll never find Jesus dwelling on descendants. Social justice starts with believing that one person’s life is as important as the other.

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NO SPAM - although sometimes fried on white bread is mmmmmm..