Pray for the peace of Lebanon…

Like many in the Antiochian Archdiocese I have parishoners from Lebanon whose families still live there. For them these are very anxious times. The pictures that look to us like impressive fireworks displays or the pyrotechnics of Rambo movies are thier life and death. Really, as in done and gone and buried and never to return.

War is always an affront to Christianity, to its purposes and its calling. Even as it is sometimes a necessity it is deeply grievous and represents the depths of our brokenness. The Orthodox Church has historically expressed this in many ways not the least of which is to impose a penance, a denial of the Eucharist, to those involved in the taking of human life in war, even those who participated in a lawful, as much as war can be described in such a way, conflict. Priests are held to an even higher standard, a commitment to never take human life, even acidentally.

It is true that war will be the lot of human beings until Christ returns. We’re broken and so often unable to settle our differences without trying to extinguish the people that embody them. It is also true that Christian people may need to cross that line and take a stand, even violently, to defend the good because it is not a righteous thing to simply let evil do its work without standing for the victims.

But we need to think first. Think really hard. When wars happen people really die and not just the people we’re supposed to hate but others as well, regular folks trying to live thier lives, people with “no dog in the fight”. We call it, from the safety of our lives, “collateral damage” but that is small comfort to those get hit. And the world changes, valuable things are lost, relationships between people are permanently scarred, and the fix of war is always only temporary because the cause is deeply entwined with the very core of our being and will always find new ways to mutate.

I’m no utopian. I know bad things happen and, this side of Christ’s return, always will. But as much as my country or the media or this side or that wants me and mine to commit to this terrible conflict or that I choose to hope for a better way, to approach it all with seriousness and not simply emotion, to work as hard as I can to still the voices of hate and war inside of me, and always be ready to quickly work for peace and barring that to struggle to heal the wounds, repair the damage, and help find a better path.

So now I pray for the peace of Lebanon…

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