Friday, July 29, 2016

A Man Bears Witness to the God of Peace

Father Jacques Hamel, an 84 year old French parish priest, was killed while saying Mass on July 26 by two assailants. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack. Father Jacques was a man of peace and dialogue, loved and respected by both Christians and Muslims in Normandy. He is another witness in these turbulent times to the love that is greater than death.

Father Jacques could have "retired" years ago, but he chose to remain active, to stay with his people. In him we see, yet again, how simple daily acts of love are sustained by a heroism that reveals itself in embracing the ultimate sacrifice. A martyr is ready to "give all" at the moment of death because he or she has already been giving everything, giving and giving every day, answering the invitation to love God and others that is offered through all the days and months and years entrusted to each one of us.

The Catholic bishops of France have invited their nation to observe today as a day of prayer and fasting "for peace" in their country and the world. Many Christians and others of good will are joining them in seeking God's blessing and making sacrifices to open their hearts more deeply to His love.

Let us keep in our hearts this day and hereafter the witness of Father Jacques, his love for Jesus Christ to the end and his enduring hope that the compassion and mercy of God might shine forth and rescue human hearts from the cycle of violence.

"May we hear God’s invitation to take care of this world--to make it, where we live, warmer, more human, more fraternal" (Father Jacques Hamil).