The Jamaica Council of Churches’ Message
International Day of Prayer for Peace, 2012
“PRAYING FOR CEASEFIRE”
Friday, 21 September 2012 is dedicated as International Day of Prayer for Peace as proposed by the United Nations. The theme this year is “Praying for Ceasefire,” a most relevant theme when one listens to reports of the many never-ending conflicts that take place in several parts of the world at varying scales: Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, parts of Nigeria (Christian/Moslem conflicts),and in our own native land, Jamaica. Would that there could be a universal ceasefire so that true patriotism and rational thinking could prevail and gain centre stage long enough for us to realize that peace is our ultimate aim and the means to true happiness.
In his Letter to the Philippians, the Apostle Paul appeals to two members of that Christian community to come to some amicable agreement. Their aim ought to be the acquisition of that “peace of God that surpasses all understanding,” and which will regulate “their hearts and thoughts in Christ Jesus.” Paul reminds them (and us) that peace is a gift from God—a given in the first instance—but which we must work to maintain by being positive and by filling our minds with “everything that is good and pure, everything that we love and honour, and everything that can be virtuous or worthy of praise.” He then concludes: “Then the God of peace will be with you” [cf. Phil.4: 2-9].
Clearly, it is not just a matter of praying for a ceasefire that will bring about God’s peace, but it also entails the application of self in terms of intentionally fostering those attitudes and values whose aim is to bring about just and wholesome relationships that result in a sense of oneness within one’s own being. It is that sense of oneness from within that transforms broken families and ultimately radiates throughout our immediate communities, as well as our churches and the nation. It is that very sense of oneness for which we Jamaicans yearn that will bring about a reduction in rabid, divisive partisan political behaviour which impedes a unity of purpose for the good of country and productivity. It is that oneness for which we dream that will eradicate gang warfare which results in senseless murders, mayhem, abuses and rapes.
In other words, the ceasefire we desire in our world and nation—and God knows we need it—has a marvelous correlation with the spiritual and emotional “ceasefire” that we allow God to effect in us through his Spirit. Peace is God’s gift, but as collaborators with God, we pay heed to Christ’s call to happiness: “Happy are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God” [Matt 5:9]. Let the Prayer of St. Francis reverberate in our very being in this quest for a ceasefire:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
And where there is darkness, light.
+Donald J. Reece (Roman Catholic Archbishop Emeritus)
President, Jamaica Council of Churches