Each one of us will have our own memories of the events that touched and made an impression on us this year. We have experienced the mass movement of refugees fleeing war, poverty and violence seeking a more secure environment which they would hope to call home. One cannot help but be touched by the sufferings etched in so many of their faces. We have witnessed so many innocent people being killed in places like France, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, part of Africa and elsewhere. The sad thing is that they have become another statistic and to some extent we have become numb to people’s sufferings.
Yet in the midst of all the brokenness there are real signs of hope. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the many individuals, NGOs and faith based groups who tirelessly work to bring about change and healing. Our world is a better place because of them. Since he became Pope in March 2013 Pope Francis has given tremendous witness and hope to so many people. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to him in the way he has touched the lives of so many people including world leaders.
In the midst of all the negative forces, we are called to be a people who pray constantly for the strength to face the challenges of life with integrity and courage. In Jesus, God pursues humankind with a love that is tireless, a love that refuses to allow hate and indifference to take over. Jesus walked the roads of Palestine seeking out those who were “lost” and different and healing the broken and the wounded. He reached out to the world in friendship and love. It is in Jesus that we discover and rediscover the joy of God’s tenderness, mercy, hope and peace.
In these turbulent times, let us be filled with the joy, peace and tenderness of God’s presence in our midst. Let us rediscover the merciful Jesus who is “the light for all nations.” Let us continue to be pilgrims of peace and hope in a world torn by violence. Let us continue to be a people bringing the light and hope of Jesus to others.
Columban Fr. Pat Raleigh lives and works in Ireland.