What do Jesus’s words mean during a general election campaign?

By Fr TOM McHUGH

“He opened their minds.” These are words of Jesus given to us in the Gospel just now. What might these words mean as we find ourselves in the middle of the general election campaign?

Early next year the new Government will have to decide whether or not to renew the Trident Nuclear system at a cost of £100 billion. Some form of replacement is supported by all except two minority parties. Between them, Russia, USA, UK, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel andNorth Korea possess more than 17,300 nuclear weapons.

We are told that we will be safer, more secure, with these so-called deterrents.  In the UK, we possess 225 of them.  This is a voice, a path that leads to death and destruction of unimaginable proportions. This is the small minded view of the fear filled.

If we want peace and justice we need to invest in education, housing, health, clean energy and jobs with a living wage for all.

We need to invest in development overseas, education, elimination of disease and infrastructure. By doing this, the pressure of mass migration of peoples would be reduced or eliminated overtime.

This is the view of the people with a big soul and a big heart. Magnanimous people. The inspiration and spiritual energy for this comes from today’s Gospel.

Jesus resisted the violence, fear and hatred of Calvary with love and forgiveness which comes from the heart of God – the magnanimous heart of a Merciful God. Today, in the Gospel, Jesus, who is the way to life, said to his friends who ran away or denied him, “Peace be with you.” He stretched out his wounded and now transfigured hands that his friends might experience him as real.

The other way arising from fear-filled hearts is hell bent and illusory. Offering the vision of what is true and real. Jesus is the one who says to us, to politicians, to believers and seekers of peace, Repent! That means change direction – turn right around, i.e. leave your small-mindedness and your fear behind, and live out of the magnanimity of soul that I have given you. As St. Paul says put on the mind of Christ. Shape a new world, build a civilisation of love and forgiveness, where dialogue replaces soundbites. Strangers become friends. Enemies are reconciled.

You, I, we can make a difference. Elimination of Trident is not a single issue – it symbolises the kind of world we want to give our children and grandchildren.

Pope Francis said last December that nuclear deterrence cannot be the basis for the ethics of solidarity and peaceful coexistence among peoples and states.

So what can you/I do?

Be informed, pray and reflect.

Act.

For more information and helpful suggestions, visit Pax Christi’s website at www.paxchristi.org.uk

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