Print
Providence and Peace

by Msgr. Robert L. Stern

When Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, captured Babylon in 539 B.C., he initiated two centuries of Persian rule of the ancient Near East. As a matter of policy, he tolerated and even promoted the religions of his subject peoples.

The Bible testifies that he issued a decree that allowed Jewish exiles in Babylon to return to Jerusalem and to resume the worship of the Lord there.

They saw in Cyrus a providential answer to their prayers. “The Lord inspired King Cyrus,” the Chronicler soberly affirms. The prophet-poet, Isaiah, declares Cyrus a “champion of justice.” He boldly claims that God called Cyrus “friend,” “shepherd” and “anointed,” ancient titles reserved for Abraham and the house of David.

Isaiah’s reflection on Cyrus witnesses to the workings of divine providence:

For the sake of Jacob, my servant,
of Israel my chosen one,

I have called you by your name,
giving you a title, though you knew me not.

I am the Lord and there is no other,
there is no God besides me.

It is I who arm you, though you know me not,
so that toward the rising and the setting of the sun
men may know that there is none besides me.

Twenty-six hundred years ago, the region that we now call the Middle East looked grim and hopeless. No political solution presented itself. Yet God made a way where there was none.

People of faith trust in God that solutions are possible in situations which, humanly speaking, seem hopeless. Such confidence doesn’t justify inaction – for God expects us to do all that we possibly can – but frees us from paralysis and despair.

In geology the theory of plate tectonics holds that large segments of the earth’s crust are moving, even colliding. The scale of these colossal motions usually exceeds our perceptions – except for an earthquake or volcanic eruption – yet they really are taking place.

God’s interventions in the lives of individuals, families and nations have a certain similarity. The movings of His Spirit exceed our immediate perceptions, yet they are the most fundamental of realities.

We often speak of praying to God for peace. This is no pious platitude. Though human peacemakers have their role, and blessed may they be, peace comes as a work and a gift of God in history.

May the troubled world we serve – Albania, Greece, Bulgaria, the Soviet Union, Turkey, Cyprus, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, India, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Egypt and Ethiopia – be blessed with peace, “God’s own peace, which is beyond all understanding.”

Post a Comment | Comments(0)

Msgr. Robert L. Stern, Secretary General of CNEWA



Tags: Unity Msgr. Stern