Today’s passage from Isaiah describes a feast that might be celebrated when all fear and violence leaves the world. The people in Colombia must feel this joy after so many years of civil war. There is finally a peace treaty between the government and FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. Over fifty years, as many as 6.8 million Colombians have been displaced because of this conflict. Innocent people experienced child recruitment into FARC and other groups, abductions, and crimes of sexual violence. Although some progress with peace talks has been made, guerrilla and paramilitary groups close to the government continue to terrorize civilians.
In addition to the violence associated with the guerilla groups and the government, there is the violence that comes from the drug trade. Coco is a primary and lucrative crop for many of the farmers in Colombia and while the government has tried for years to irradiate these plants, they continue to be grown. Again, there have been abductions, murders, and sexual violence.
As I read about the trials of the Colombians, my thoughts turned to the impact of this violence on the mothers whose children were abducted in the middle of the night. Imagine not knowing whether your child was alive or dead… for years. Mothers who protest these abductions are called Madres de la Candalaria and they have worked since 1999 to find out what happened to their children and to bring peace to their country. To date, they have documented 1,176 disappearances but have found only 76 bodies.
These brave women join mothers around the world like the Madres de Plaza de Mayo in Argentina, the Ladies in White in Cuba, the Saturday Mothers in Turkey and the Mourning Mothers in Iran who hold governments accountable for finding their lost children.
Their nonviolent witness is a model for us today. We are also called to be a peaceful but constant reminder to end the injustice, incivility, and violence present in our world. Today, and all month, let us keep the people of Colombia, especially the Madres, in our prayers that God will wipe the tears from their eyes and destroy the veil of violence that covers them. Let us pray that peace will come and stay in their country.