Many bulls have surrounded me, fierce bulls of Bashan close me in. Against me they open wide their jaws, like lions, rending and roaring.

Like water I am poured out,
disjoined are all my bones.
My heart has become like wax,
it is melted within my breast.

Parched as burnt clay is my throat,
my tongue cleaves to my jaws.

Psalm 22 describes Israel in her anguish and Jesus in his suffering. It is Good Friday. But reading it, thoughts may go to Gaza and how appropriate the words are on the lips of the Palestinians. Day after day we read of and see their sufferings on our screens and most recently the malnourished and starving children. Do these pictures reach Israeli screens? The reverse of fortune, where the Jews who suffered so much now inflict suffering on others, is painful, even unbearable, for a watching world. How is it possible we ask for a people who themselves faced persecution, incarceration, starvation and death, to perpetrate these same things on others, especially if those others are the very people with whom they have lived – with a degree of mutual toleration – for two thousand years?

The answer does not lie with the events of October 7th last year. It began when the reasonable desire of the Jews to return to their ancient homeland was so badly handled by the British, the Palestinians and Israelis. Modern Israel was born of war as ancient Israel was. The language of the bible about the conquest of the promised land is vicious. But that was then. Now is now. We live in an age where slowly, painfully and even grudgingly, we are discovering that we are one human family and we have to learn to get along together. The United Nations, with all its weaknesses, is a majestic lighthouse, showing us the way. But we ignore its ideals so often and prefer to founder on the rocks of competition, hatred and distrust.

The vulnerable are simply crushed. The Tablet this week, reminds us of the words of Thomas Hobbes, a seventeenth century philosopher, who wrote that without a sovereign authority to administer a social contract – something the UN stands for today but is not yet empowered to be – life proceeds with ‘continual fear and danger of violent death; (for men, women and children it is) solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short’. The Tablet is talking about Haiti where all government has collapsed, but it could just as well apply to Palestine/Israel where no social contract has ever existed since the day the Israelis came in force in 1948.

Huge efforts are being made to establish a ceasefire. It is in the interests of everyone. Peace in Ireland grew out of a Good Friday accord. We pray that this Easter, some progress can be made towards a lasting peace in the land where Jesus walked and talked and became a light to the nations.

Post published in: Faith

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