by Lilith M. Usog
This reflection is extracted from “Suggested Liturgy Guide for the International Women’s Day Celebration 2003” organised by the Ecumenical Women’s Forum. This guide is prepared by the Women’s Desk, Ecumenical Education and Nurture, National Council of Churches in the Philippines
To talk about peace when we are faced with conflict situations seems to be an ambitious task. But strengthened by our Christian ideals and resources from the Oriental religion we are still convinced that PEACE will not be a remote possibility. Surely, it will not come in a silver platter but through hard-earned efforts of peace making. We are challenged to make peace our mantra (prayer word) so we can contribute in sending positive energies into our war-torn and divided world at the same time we can make peace as a way of life. What better occasion to reflect on peace when the Bush government is determined to wage war on Iraq; when bombings in Mindanao has no let-up and when we are continuously bombarded with foreign goods while our people go hungry. With fervent longing we echo the prophecy of Zechariah...”guide our feet into the way of peace”.
Where war and violence seems to be a constant in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Israel, Palestine, Philippines and many other countries let us not be calloused by its effects. While violence exudes male arrogance, the women and children suffer the most. Let me share the longings of other women and children on PEACE:
There is a dissonance between the biblical peace and the stories of women and children in war torn countries. Peace means something much more than the absence of war. There are two roads used in the original languages of the Bible that means “peace”. In the Hebrew language of the Old Testament the word is “Shalom” and in the Greek language of the New Testament, it is “Eirene”, which has the same meaning as “Shalom”. The root meaning of Shalom is completeness, wholeness; another meaning is peaceable or time of peace. True peace excludes nobody from the circle of harmony and completeness. The Bible also refers to peace as prosperity and security (which includes economic and political security referred to in I Chronicles 4:40; 22:9, Isaiah 32:18). To sum up the Bible describes peace as a state of total well-being, inner harmony and oneness between God and human beings.
Grounded on these realities we join our voices with other peace-loving individuals and groups who are clamouring for peace. With these glaring realities we need to act and not just stay complacent. What better picture can we paint but creating circles of peace in our own homes, in places where we work and in the larger community. We are again summoned by our faith, as Christians to take on Christ, the Prince of Peace. The peace that Jesus gives is a transforming and harmonising peace rooted in compassion and strong sense of justice. Here we are impelled to participate in peace-making wherever we are. It could be educating for peace; registering our protest for peace; making our voices heard for peace. Whatever the case maybe—stand and be counted! And like Zechariah we implore the liberating Spirit to guide our feet into the way of peace. Go forth and work for peace strengthened by this blessing:
Deep peace of the Running Wave to you.
Deep peace of the Flowing Air to you.
Deep peace of the Quiet Earth to you.
Deep peace of the Shining Stars to you.
Deep peace of Jesus of Peace to you. (Celtic Benediction)