In the beginning was Al-Nakba (the Catastrophe) in May 1948. The Zionist forces (Irgun and Haganah) invaded Palestine to establish the Israeli state. The conquest is now an occupation in 2018 of the land. The Zionist ideology formulate by Theodore Herzl back in 1897 was to have a Jewish nation-state to counteract European anti-Semitism.
The Israeli state models England’s government set-up with Prime Minister, Parliament and several political parties vying for voting power. Jewish citizens are governed under Civil law and Palestinians under Military law. The list of violations of Palestinian human rights (Muslim and Christian) over the 70 years of Israel’s existence would be a book now with the blatant disregard for human rights getting worse as the U.S. exercises its protective power on behalf of Israel in the United Nations and here at home. As former Israeli soldiers are coming forth to speak out publically to the world (“We were the Terrorists”), egregious acts of disregard of human rights and violence have been committed against Palestinians as they are pushed off their lands, out of their homes, deprived of the basic necessities of life such as water, privacy and safety. Medical care in hospitals and formal education become non-accessible with the roadblocks, check points, and secure roads only for Jewish settlers and citizens. Under military rule Palestinians live in an apartheid state, one in which the lives of their children are always in danger. Youth between 12 and 17 are arrested, detained, questioned in Hebrew not Arabic and without counsel or family, kept in solitary confinement and tortured either physically or verbally. Children under 11 have been shot by soldiers coming home from school.
We stand up for of justice and mercy for the Palestinians by understanding protesting Zionism is not anti-Semitic; by supporting the peaceful movements such as BDS (Boycott, Divest, and Sanction) to pressure international corporations to not benefit from the systemic deprivation of Palestinian land and resources; by becoming more informed and active to stop Israeli violations of the basic human rights of all peoples in Israel.
History will be made on Friday in our nation’s capital when the first-ever Indigenous Peoples March takes place.
The march, organized by the Indigenous Peoples Movement, intends to bring awareness to the injustices affecting Indigenous men, women and children from North, Central and South America; Oceania; Asia; Africa; and the Caribbean.
Organizers plan to raise alarm about human rights violations and the global climate crisis. They plan to lift up a number of issues, including voter suppression, divided families by walls and borders, an environmental holocaust, sex and human trafficking, and police/military brutality”
“Our people are under constant threat, from pipelines, from police, from a system that wants to forget the valuable perspectives we bring to the table,” said Chase Iron Eyes, lead counsel for the Lakota People’s Law Project.
He continued: “We must remind the world, again, that Indigenous people matter. We are all made better when we respect one another and lift each other up.”
Those words from Chase Iron Eyes got me thinking about what our world would be like if we truly believed that all human beings deserve equal respect because of their innate dignity.
If we really valued human dignity, we would not be plagued by injustice and unfair treatment — there would be no need for grassroots movements (like the Indigenous Peoples Movement) to raise our collective conscience to see those injustices and take action to right the wrongs.
Perhaps what disturbs me the most is that we have to, once again, be reminded that Indigenous people matter.
How many times do we have to be reminded that people of color are just as human as those who benefit from the policies and practices entrenched in established institutions that perpetuate inequity?
When will we truly be awakened to the reality that structural racism is a feature of our social, economic and political systems?
When will we find the courage to be honest and transparent as we dialogue about ways to dismantle the structure that allows injustices and inequities to exist?
Transparency is the first step in building bridges that will lead to a just world where all human beings are valued, appreciated, and embraced.
Like Chase Iron Eyes said: “We are all made better when we respect one another and lift each other up.”
As I write this blog, my Mom is in hospice care at my oldest sister’s place in Texas. Since I can’t be there, I have pictures of my Mom on my computer screen to keep her close. One of the pictures is a poignant one of Mom with my sister’s dog, Oreo, resting on her lap and her hand resting gently on his head. Whenever my Mom visited my sister, Oreo served as a source of comfort to her. How fitting that he lovingly provides comfort to her now.
I am mindful that in this Advent season of waiting, my Mom eagerly awaits being reunited with her Creator, with my Dad, and with all her loved ones who are with God already. She has expressed her acceptance of these final days with us and her readiness to be with God. She is a woman of great faith and trust in the Lord. Her daily devotion of prayer for her family is something we will all miss and now becomes our gift to each other. As the light goes out on my Mom’s earthly existence, I can feel God’s presence, knowing that this is a sacred time for our family of seven children.
Since writing the above two paragraphs, my Mom is now in heaven. She joined the choir of angels on December 26 and her waiting fittingly came after the Advent season. I can only imagine her joy at seeing my Dad and being in the loving embrace of her Creator.
The night before my Mom died, my oldest sister asked how I wanted to be informed of Mom’s passing—if I wanted to know as the time appeared closer or after she ascended into heaven. I told her I wanted to be notified when the time was close so I could light a candle for Mom. Of course, when I received the call to light the candle, it was both a sacred and sorrowful moment. Moments after the first phone call came my sister called again to tell me “Your Mom is in heaven now.” With my husband at my side, we wept for our loss and yet felt a happiness for Mom that her prayers for a peaceful death happened.
Mom lived for 92 years, the same age that her mother passed away. Us seven siblings and some of her grandchildren will be celebrating her life at her funeral Mass in Plano, Texas on January 25. Mom was devoted to saying the rosary daily and to praying for the needs of her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. I had a ritual of having Sunday evening chats with Mom for many years and will miss having these chats and to hearing her voice, but she will always be in my heart. So, it is with gratitude and love that I remember my Mom’s life. We will laugh and we will cry during our celebration of her life, a life that we are memorializing in a video that all my siblings have contributed to from their collection of photos.
We pray for those who minister to the sick and dying in hospitals, in nursing homes, in private homes, and for those who are in hospice care. As a community of believers in the resurrection of the body and in everlasting life, we offer our love and prayers to all who have lost loved ones, recently and some time ago. May God’s mercy, love, and compassion bring us peace.
If you feel called to be a beacon of light, of peace, and of joy in a hurting world, maybe God is calling you to become a religious sister to minister to the needs of God’s people. We are eager to hear your story and to help you discern God’s call in your life. You can contact one of our Vocation Ministers by calling, texting, or emailing us. We also have a Come and See retreat we will be hosting at our motherhouse in Akron, Ohio from March 15-17, 2019, where you can experience and explore community life, and so much more.
Bette Midler sings the song “From a Distance”, seeking to make the point that the world and God’s view of it are much larger than our differences, disagreements, and divides “here below” look to us; that we are one with a shared humanity in a world community, and if only we could see ourselves as part of that bigger harmonious reality, as God does, we would stop the hating and the warring.
There’s one problem in the refrain, one which we who have been celebrating the Incarnation and the Manifestations of Jesus can notice right away: God is not distant. God is not distant. God is ineffably “beyond”– so much larger than our hearts and our limited relationships, and far surpassing our capacity to grasp—but God is also ineffably near. The consoling and challenging truth for Christians is the “hereness” of God, a reality that permeates the world and our most intimate selves.
St. Nick and Santa Claus have had their season of seeing our good and bad behavior and judging our worthiness for presents. So we return to ordinary time, when parents and teachers and various moral authorities warn people that God sees and knows all and is tallying our vices and virtues for the day of our final reckoning. This may be momentarily effective in curbing bad behavior, but as we all know, this particular version of God has only limited successes and for the most part, very little to do with the conversion and ownership of our hearts.
We are in the midst the mystery we celebrate at Christmas, the free choice of God to enter the heart of the world and the stuff of humanity, in mercy and love beyond our ken. We are also in the midst of a pervasive darkness that spans homes and schoolyards and city streets and brutal prisons and the rubble remaining where towns once bustled with human activity, their inhabitants now refugees in camps where as the psalmist put it, “My tears are my food day and night.” And that is only human cost, also borne by the rivers and forests and innumerable and precious species threatened and poisoned through human ignorance and greed.
“The Word became flesh and made a home among us.” This is not past tense. The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it. Present tense. Future tense. These are the lines we are given to speak, the words of witness we not only give voice to, but invite to grow in us, welcome in our own flesh. What good is it, asked Meister Eckhart, for Mary to give birth to Jesus if we do not bring him to birth in our lives?
God is not distant. And God is not just watching. There are times we might prefer a bit of Divine disinterest, when daily we’re bumping into or tripping over Jesus who calls to us in human need, slight as a mere bother, or vast as a starving nation. As the story goes, he began his journey in poverty, bore his own and others’ humanity, lived in trust, responded to the needs of those around him, preached fearlessly, and gave his entire being over for love. That Love carried him and lifted him up, and abounds and multiplies, invades and possesses, impels and energizes us in a thousand ways for the needs of our brothers and sisters. And sometimes we notice, and are amazed, so small and needy and distant we seem to ourselves. But God—distant? No, God—Emmanuel!