Homily – November 11, 2018

In our opening pray we ask God to keep from us all adversity so that unhindered in mind and body we may pursue in freedom of heart the things that are God’s. Good luck. Keep from us all adversity. Can you imagine going through a day without some kind of conflict or misunderstanding? Even on the best of days there always seems to be a fly in the ointment. Carefree days are to be treasured. Look at the forces impacting our daily lives. The political and social chaos south of our border is in our face whether we like it or not. It impacts our lives too. We can buy into the rhetoric of racism and bigotry, the fear of the stranger, the resentment toward immigrants, the belief that our taxes go to support a bunch of Freddie free-loaders. We don’t appreciate the possibilities of where these negative attitudes can lead us. We fail to learn from past histories.

November 11, 1918. The end of the war that was to end all wars. Today we remember the millions upon millions of young men who died or were wounded during four years of conflict. We remember the countless civilians who lost their lives and homelands. All these victims were on both sides of this war.

In a way that war to end all wars was a family feud. Nicholas, the Tsar of Russia, Wilhelm the Kaiser of Germany, George V, the king of England were all first cousins, descendants of Queen Victoria. November 11, 1918 was the beginning of the end of the German Empire, the Austro- Hungarian Empire, the Russian Empire, the Ottoman Empire and the beginning of the end of the British Empire. As one poet wrote, ‘The paths of glory lead but to the grave.’

The war to end all wars? No. Within 40 years the Europe was at war again. World War 2 ended when the atomic bomb was dropped on two Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Since then we’ve had the Korean War, the Indo China War, the Vietnam War followed by the phony war on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, followed by the Afgan War, the elusive war on terrorism and the civil wars in Syria and the civil war in Yemen, wars fostered by outside interests.

Remember Pete Seager’s protest song? Where have all the flowers gone? Where have all the young men gone, long time passing, gone to grave yards everyone, when will they ever learn, when will we they ever learn?

Are you all thoroughly depressed? Me too. How do political leaders convince ordinary men and women that they should go to war? By demonizing people of other nations.

We’ve had the savage Huns, the Russian Tartars, the Japanese who eat raw fish, the Afghans were the rag heads, the Viet Cong were the little men in pajamas, and we know every Moslem is a terrorist.

We’re told refugees are streaming into our country illegally. These people are a threat to our social and our financial stability. They don’t speak English, they don’t speak French. They’ll try to impose their laws and values on us. We have problems enough of our own we don’t need to import them. Don’t trust strangers.

All this rhetoric is so un-Christian. All this rhetoric leads to distrust and alienation. Such rhetoric has led us to all the wars of the last century and all this rhetoric is still part of our daily conversation.

Our Christian faith tells us we are children of God; we are brothers and sisters in the human family. Our Christian tells us the Jesus our Christ died on the cross for all of us.

Nov. 11, 2018 is an important anniversary of an event from which we have learned so little because we allow ourselves to buy into fear of the stranger, fear of change, fear of something new.

We sing ‘let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.’

As we continue to celebrate our Mass we pray for ourselves and for each other that we refuse to listen to calls to distrust and reject the stranger and be instruments of God’s peace in our homes and in our communities and in our nation.