The Sydney Siege: a few thoughts

Yesterday the world held its breath while events unfolded in Sydney. Now the siege is over, the investigations will begin. We shall probably need to revise some of the more ill-informed pronouncements of the media (you may have noticed that the gunman was variously described as a Shia extremist, a Sunni extremist, a terrorist, and so on). But this morning two things stand clear: the need to pray for the dead and injured, including those who have been deeply traumatised by the event; and to salute the #illridewithyou movement which gathered momentum throughout the day and showed how, in the midst of the most terrible circumstances, ordinary Australian people refused to give in to hatred and fear. No one wants to talk in terms of ‘victory’ or ‘defeat’ on such occasions, but in this instance they were the real victors of the Sydney siege: decent people having the courage to stand up for human values.

Sadly, not everyone was prepared to follow their example. I was saddened to find a few people churning out the kind of hate-filled rhetoric that actually fuels terrorist violence. What grieved me most were those who claimed to do so as Christians. The irony of preparing to welcome the Prince of Peace this Christmas and spewing out hatred of others, in this case Muslims, seems to have been lost on them.

Today’s first Mass reading, Zephaniah 3, reminds us how easy it is to strut on God’s holy mountain; to convince ourselves of our own superiority. We may think we have a monopoly of righteousness, like the chief priests and elders of today’s gospel (Matt 21.28-32), but then the tax collectors and prostitutes come along and put us in our place — outside the Kingdom. It is a sobering thought. If today we are tempted to harbour bitter or angry thoughts towards anyone, but especially towards our Muslim neighbours, let us think again. Sometimes, to be really brave, one has to accept being thought a coward. Sometimes, to follow Jesus, one has to be prepared to abandon the herd and just do what is right and proper.


9 thoughts on “The Sydney Siege: a few thoughts”

  1. Yesterday was a learning curve for me, one cannot serve two masters. I read someone’s comment, that by helping Muslims there would be no churches left in Australia within fifty years. They may be right, I don’t know, but what is the point of having a church that does not practice what it preaches?

    Thank you for reminding us that sometimes, to follow Jesus, one has to be prepared to abandon the herd and just do what is right and proper.

    Much love to you, your sisters and BD this Christmas, and every blessing in 2015.

  2. Well said! My son’s flat mate is a Muslim and he is appalled by what is being done in the name of his religion when it is so far from what he believes. We are quick to forget what it felt like being a catholic when the IRA were perpetrating such violence. Good people need to walk together in unity against violence and evil.

  3. Praying for all involved. Important still to remember that there are still billions in this wonderful workd of ours who are not fighting each other and just wanting to live in peace and love.

  4. As an Australian Catholic (living in Brisbane) I want you all to know how much Australians appreciate the thoughtfulness and prayers of many people a long way away from Australia. Please pray for the victims of this siege- the dead, the traumatised and their families and friends. And for the Muslim Australians who are shocked by this act of violence and are in solidarity with their Jewish and Christian sisters and brothers in praying for peace in our world.
    Peace and blessings.

  5. So many questions:
    – what was the police waiting for, for the terrorist to fall asleep?
    – why did the snipers not shoot him earlier? they clearly had visibility inside the windows of the cafe to be able to see him shooting a hostage (the now famous “window 2, hostage down” phrase).
    – why didn’t they use an invisible sleeping gas and/or turn off the lights to the building and use night vision to take him out (through the window or by going in) ?

    • Forgive me, I don’t see how this relates to my blog post, which is about prayer and forgiveness. If you are just wanting somewhere to raise your questions publicly, I’m sure there must be better (i.e. better-known) places to do so than this. Perhaps an online newspaper?

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