The World's Religious Vacuum

Homily of the Mass for Peace and remembrance of the victims in the USA, delivered September 16.

BY: Michel Sabbah, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem


Brothers and sisters, we are gathered this morning to pray, to come into the presence of God almighty and merciful, to pray for our brothers and sisters who died in the tragic events of this week, in the USA. We are here with our own pains, with the pains of the American people and American Churches, with whom we are in a constant and fraternal relation in our quest of justice and peace in this land. To all of you, Americans here sharing in this prayer, we present our sincere condolences. With you, and with the people and the Church of America, we mourn the departed, we entrust them to the mercy of God. In the same time, we pray for the survivors, for the relatives and friends, and for the leaders of America, may God give them faith, hope and strength to go on building their land, with their faith in God and love for their brothers and sisters in America and in the world.

In the first reading of today, from the book of Exodus, we read the following versus: "I shall make a great nation out of you" (Exodus 32:10). For that, Moses had prayed and asked the intercession of the Fathers: "Remember Abraham, Isaac and Jacob". The greatness of the nation, for the Jewish people as for all peoples of the earth, will depend from the presence of those forefathers and their followers, the prophets and the saints, who had listened to the word of God, who had made it known to the people, and who, through the spirit of God Almighty and merciful, had prepared the peoples of the earth to become great nations. This is to say that the greatness of every nation will always rely upon the word of God, and from the capacity of the nation, leaders and people, to listen to it and to be faithful to it. The nearer to God, to his greatness, the nearer to the true greatness in this world. Jesus had also said: "Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect". All progress and all greatness in this world can only be a sharing in the greatness and the perfection of God.

The question comes naturally to the mind: There are so many interpreters of the Word of God and they are often contradictory. Some find in the Word of God love and mercy, and some find death and hatred. Jesus had said: "Be perfect as Your Father in heaven is perfect". So our guide is God himself. Those interpreters who are conform in their interpretation with the love and mercy of God, those we can trust and follow. Those who affirm attributes contrary to the very essence of God, as hatred and death and exclusion of other brothers and sisters, cannot be from God; they cannot work neither for God nor for the children of God; they cannot build the kingdom of God neither in this world nor in the world to come. Those who love, those for whom God is the source of their own love for others, these are the interpreters of the word of God.

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