Many Dwelling Places

Homily preached by the Rev. James La Macchia
Trinity Parish of Newton Centre
May 14, 2017
The Fifth Sunday of Easter – Year A

Acts 7:55-60
Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16
1 Peter 2:2-10
John 14: 1-14

My friends:

Despite the rare grace-note of Pope Francis’ successful apostolic visit to Egypt two weeks ago, following the Palm Sunday bombing of two Coptic Orthodox churches by ISIS terrorists, interreligious and ecumenical relations have been strained in recent years by news of mounting terrorism, nativism, and xenophobia—all  in the name of religion.  As I thought about and prayed this morning’s readings from the New Testament, I did so against this backdrop of mounting anxiety and frustration over religiously-inspired terrorism and fanaticism worldwide.  Car-rammings, shootings, and knife attacks by Palestinian terrorists against Israeli Jews, accompanied by cries of “God is Most Great” in Arabic, are almost weekly occurrences now in the State of Israel and the holy city Jerusalem.  ISRAEL-PALESTINIAN-CONFLICT-RELIGION-CRIME-FILES Israeli-Jewish extremists, in turn, continue to vandalize Muslim and Christian properties in Galilee and Jerusalem.  These so-called price-tag attacks against Muslim and Christian foundations are perpetrated by fanatical West Bank Israeli settlers any time the State of Israel’s government even thinks about making serious concessions to the Palestinian national movement in the longstanding Arab-Israeli conflict.  In South Sudan, Christians and Muslims are slaughtering thousands of men, women, and children in a tribal civil war and famine now on the brink of repeating the horrors of the 1990s Rwandan genocide.  Over two million children alone have been displaced in the “ethnic cleansing” there.  In Nigeria, despite the prisoner swap of 103 of the 276 schoolgirls abducted from their dormitories by Boko Haram—which means “the West is forbidden”—many of the remaining young hostages have been forced to convert to Islam, don the hijab, chant the Qur’an, and become pregnant “child-brides” or worse, suicide-bombers for their terrorist captors.  In the interim, 2000 more children have been kidnapped and abused by these terrorists.  Iraqi Sunni Muslims at the behest of ISIS continue to maim and kill their Shi’a neighbors in terror attacks surpassing the death-toll at the height of their civil war following the American invasion.  And, to be perfectly honest, I often feel that I want to vomit now every time I hear God’s name taken in vain by Islamist terrorists shouting “Allah’u’ Akbar,” “God is Most Great,” as both sides in the Syrian civil war fire rockets at hospitals, buses full of evacuees, and other civilian targets, while the government forces of the war-criminal Bashar al-Assad attack their own people with barrel-bombs and sarin gas in that six-year civil and proxy war that has resulted to date in almost a half-million civilian deaths and four million refugees.  I find those words every bit as repulsive as the Christian Crusaders chanting “Deus Vult,” “God Wills It,” as they rode through the streets of Jerusalem and slaughtered thirty-thousand Jews and Muslims following their capture of Jerusalem in the twelfth century CE. Continue reading