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  • Writer's pictureElpidio Pezzella

There is no Peace Without Justice

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May those who love you be secure".

(Psalms 122:6 NJKV)

The city of Jerusalem with its history makes the heart of anyone with a minimum of faith leap. The roads traveled by Jesus, the panoramas fixed in the eyes of the disciples, the sounds and smells of the crowds following the Messiah are just some of the reasons that place it out of any comparison with the largest and most beautiful cities in the world. Unfortunately, Jerusalem is a disputed city on a political, religious and cultural level. Throughout history it has been known by different names. The current name derives from the word "shalom", which means "peace", and the most common interpretation would be that of "city of peace". Seeing it periodically at the center of conflicts brings deep suffering, mixed, in some circumstances, with concrete doubts. A city object of so much hostility and contention among peoples, what would the city of peace be like?

In Psalm 122 the word "peace" is associated with Jerusalem, the seat of the royal palace and the administration of the nation, but also the fulcrum of the entire country from a religious point of view. In fact, here floods of pilgrims gathered for the feasts prescribed by the Law, on the occasion of which they gathered together to celebrate the Lord. This psalm was part of a collection that accompanied the Jews on their way to the city, who, arriving from the countryside, remained speechless, filled with admiration, once they arrived in front of one of the entrance doors. The deep affection for the city is expressed in the desire for peace, which means not only the absence of war, but prosperity, security, well-being on the part of God. I tried to ask myself why Scripture commands us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, emerging from ideologies and convictions matured over time, and which often do not take into account the geopolitical evolution, ending up joining what is spiritual to what is unfortunately merely material. Jesus himself declared: "My kingdom is not of this world" (John 18:36).

Many Christians see a sign of the fulfillment of biblical prophecies in what is happening in Israel in our day, and especially in Jerusalem, while totally ignoring the political history that led to the state of Israel and the international agreements that provided for the city belonged to everyone, including Palestinians. There is no question how Israel remains that fig tree to be observed in order to recognize the evolution of the kingdom of God, as announced by Jesus himself (Luke 21:29-31). But the transport for the people chosen and loved first, must not blind us not to see abuses and injustices, as already claimed by the prophets (Micah 3). Specifically, on the issue that is inflaming the Middle Eastern scenario and bleeding not only Jerusalem, some argue that the only way to put an end to this terrible violence is to recognize the same dignity, the same freedom and the same recognized rights to the Palestinians, internationally, to the Israelis, since no peace can be built on the persecution of a people, on military occupation. It is not enough, in fact, to call for an end to the violence of some, if then the others practice abuse and oppression, violating fundamental human rights. And it is also for all this that there is and will never be peace without justice. If Jesus associated justice with the primary search for the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33), we should pause and reflect.

God has not abandoned his way with Israel, despite the fact that he has turned his back on him several times. I wonder if a people who do not follow God have the right to do what they want and also receive the consent of others. Better then to return to the invitation of the psalm, broadening the horizons. To pray for Jerusalem and its peace is to pray for the world, for the Church, for myself, so that all may find Him who is true Peace, beyond any economic and political interest. Not surprisingly, on the occasion of his last pilgrimage to Jerusalem to celebrate Easter, Jesus could not help but cry, before entering the city. Who more than him would have wanted peace for Jerusalem? Perhaps Jesus was crying thinking about what terrible things that city would have to face in the future... Yet, with that gesture, Jesus noted that Jerusalem had not been able to recognize his Messiah, or what was needed for his peace. God did not abandon the city he had chosen. Israel, like Palestine and the whole world (John 3:16), can still know the peace that God wants to give her, welcoming the Messiah and his Gospel. In this way the words of the Psalm will take on new light and new form before those who have the peace of Jerusalem and Israel at heart: pray also for an acceptance of Jesus as Messiah because only He can bring peace!

Weekly Bible Reading

Plan # 21

May 17, 1 Chronicles 1-3; John 5:25-47

May 18, 1 Chronicles 4-6; John 6:1-21

May 19, 1 Chronicles 7-9; John 6:22-44

May 20, 1 Chronicles 10-12; John 6:45-71

May 21, 1 Chronicles 13-15; John 7:1-27

May 22, 1 Chronicles 16-18; John 7:28-53

May 23, 1 Chronicles 19-21; John 8:1-27

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