Pray for Peace
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
The recent violence involving police shootings of suspects and the murder of five police officers and wounding of seven other officers in Dallas this past week are a stark reminder that we must work extra hard to restore peace in our society. Peace is not just about law and order but also about calmness and serenity of each person’s words and actions, thoughts and feelings.
Words also matter! If words did not matter there would be no need for the epistle and gospel readings, the homily, nor the prayers, nor any other part of the Divine Liturgy. Words do matter because words are heard by the ear and then they enter into the heart and psyche (the psyche- the soul) of the listener. Once inside the words have the power to shape, influence and change us. Words of anger, hate and violence can lead to like actions. Words of peace, love and unity can help to bring people together and prevent and stop actions that divide and destroy.
One thing that is for sure, it is the people who have encountered violence, tragedy and death that are the most sober-minded and clear thinking about it. The families of the two young men shot by police have condemned the horrific attack against the Dallas police officers. The Dallas police chief and mayor provide further examples to us of how we should react. Instead of voicing anger and casting blame and aspersions, they called for help, peace and prayers.
Here is what they said:
Dallas police chief David Brown-
We don’t feel much support most days. Let’s not make today most days. Please. We need your support to be able to protect you from men like these who carried out this tragic, tragic event.”
“Pray for these families…they are not having a good time trying to deal, absorb this, trying to understand why, and they need your prayers. Please join us in helping us comfort the grieving officers’ families…please pray for our strength through this trying time,”
Dallas mayor Mike Rawlings-
Last night the chief told the victims’ families and the police officers that he is a man of faith. And I am a man of faith too. We need prayers and prayer is good. So today at 12:00pm, at Thanksgiving Square, a leadership group of interfaith ministers will be leading us in that prayer. I would ask that
“If you’re at our home or your office or your school to join us today at noon in prayer, to bring our city together to bring our country together, to heal wounds, not create them,”
All lives matter! All human life matters. Thus, whenever someone dies or is killed or murdered it is tragedy. And when we encounter murder and death personally, closely, intimately, this stake and painful reality takes away all the superfluous unnecessary parts of our life and helps us intensely focus on what is most important: God and our neighbor; love and forgiveness. It relates to what Jesus said in today’s Gospel reading from the Third Sunday of Matthew (6:22-33)
31“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
We are here today, in God’s house, our beloved Orthodox Christian home and temple, to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. We have already prayed for:
From the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom:
From the Great Litany:
For the peace from above and the salvation of our souls, let us pray to the Lord!
For peace in the whole world, the stability of God's holy churches, and for the unity of all, let us pray to the Lord!
We are about to pray for:
From the Litany of Completion:
For a perfect, holy, peaceful and sinless day, let us ask of the Lord!
For all that is good and beneficial to our souls and for peace in the world, let us ask of the Lord!
Peace be with you all! And with your spirit!
From the Holy Anaphora:
And for all those in public service; permit them O Lord, to serve and govern in peace, that through the faithful conduct of their duties we may live peaceful and serene lives in all piety and holiness.
From the Prayer Behind the Amvon:
Grant peace to Your world, to Your churches, to the clergy, to those in public service, to the armed forces and to all You people.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ our Lord, prayer does matter because peace does not come from us. It comes from God and prayer and worship are the only ways to tap into that peace. Those who perpetrate hate, division and violence are not persons of prayer. Peace starts with God, He sends it to us when we pray and worship, and when we receive that peace, we must guard it through more prayer and worship and asceticism, so we can then share it with others. Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God!” (Matthew 5:9).