As we sit here in this warm comfortable Chapel, feeling safe and secure as we pray, people elsewhere are dying, people are being persecuted, and people are being displaced. We could go on and on. Life is very different for so many. Acutely aware of the need for peace, Fr Bruno, the Master of our Order and the Commission for Justice and Peace have proposed that we make the season of Advent, as we await the coming of the Prince of Peace, a period of intense prayer for peace in our war torn world and of solidarity with our Dominican brothers and sisters involved in preaching in situations of injustice. This Advent our focus is on Columbia where there are Dominicans working to support the implementation of the Peace accord that was signed in 2016.

We know that peace can come about, that agreements can work. We have seen it happen in Northern Ireland and in our lifetime we have seen the fall of the Iron Curtain. Persistent prayer works. The holy rosary is a mighty weapon against the forces of evil.
But a hymn I learnt as a child in school echoes in my heart, challenging me. It goes ‘let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me’. We have to be instruments of the peace we want to see reigning in our world. In the light of this morning’s Gospel Chapter 11 of St. Luke’s gospel struck me with great force. Whatever house you enter first say peace be to this house. And if a person of peace is there, your peace shall rest upon him, but if not, it shall return to you. Somehow we have to prove the earnestness of our prayer for world peace by our willing to work for peace wherever we find ourselves- in our families, our community, our workplace, our neighbourhood. We have to come to each encounter with peace in our hearts and a desire to share that peace with the other person. But if we meet with hostility, coldness, indifference or any other negative response we have to allow our peace return to us. We are not to allow ourselves to be robbed of our peace. No one can do that to us. It is our choice, MY choice. If I allow myself to be disturbed, what will happen, the next person will come along, perhaps someone in great need of a smile, a kind word, a gesture of peace and I will miss that opportunity to serve Jesus in a troubled person. Jesus has come unexpectedly and I don’t see him because I am in a stupor, preoccupied, wallowing in my self-righteousness, being a victim soul.
Before turning off the light these nights I am reading a collection of memories that the Scripture Scholar Megan McKenna had of her grandmother. By happy coincidence or providence I came to a chapter headed Cuba 1960 last night. Megan at the age of fifteen had her secure, safe, sheltered life life turned on its head by the Cuban Missile crisis. It was her first encounter with the horrors of war. The dawning reality in her peaceful childhood of evil, of death, intended, immanent, planned and executed, of war intruding into her life, as she puts it, and it left her paralysed with fear. She couldn’t eat or sleep. She lay on her bed in despair until her Nana came to her. Her Nana’s wisdom is as pertinent now as it was 57 yrs ago and I found it worth taking to heart a salutary reminder that if I am not part of the solution then I am part of the problem.
She told her was that if she believed in God she had no right to despair. God made us all. And we are all of us without exception made in his image and likeness. God didn’t make us to give up on anyone  He made or on any situation. She reminded this  fifteen year old that she couldn’t blame anyone  for what others do, without taking a long hard look at herself first and realising that what was wrong with the world was wrong with her too. We are all human beings and anything any one else can do no matter how terrible , we are given the circumstances just as capable of doing. But it is also true that we are also capable of doing all the good that is being done in the world. If God hasn’t given up on me then I cannot give up on the world. I look to myself, to his mercy to me, and hope is restored. There can be peace on earth. Conversion happens.