Has God Failed to Keep His Promise in Syria?

How different today’s first Mass reading, Isaiah 54. 1–10, seems when read in shortened form at the Easter Vigil, yet the promise it contains is one and the same. The Lord does not forget; he has joined himself to us in an everlasting covenant. If that is true, then it is true in the streets of Aleppo and the dark corners of Yemen as well as in the peaceful, well-nourished households of the west. Our problem is that we do not see it like that; we feel that God has failed in some way to keep his promise, and we are angry and disconsolate. We blame God for the tragedy, for all the misery inflicted on those he claims to love.

One of the uncomfortable truths with which Advent confronts us is this: God relies on us to fuflfil his promises — most spectacularly, when he relied upon the consent of Mary to be the Mother of God, but also, less spectacularly, when he relies upon us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and do good to them that hate us. We may think that we can do nothing to help the people of Syria or the starving children of Yemen, but in fact we can do a great deal. By living as we ought to live, with integrity and generosity, by being peace-makers in our own circle, by cultivating an unshowy sense of mutual support and kindness, we contribute to the store of good in the world and undo much that human malice and evil attempts. It is easy to dismiss this as pie-in-the-sky-idealism, but as G.K. Chesterton remarked long ago, it is not that Christianity has been tried and found wanting, it is that Christianity has never been tried. We cannot silence the guns, perhaps, but we can create a climate of opinion in which the guns cannot be fired.


11 thoughts on “Has God Failed to Keep His Promise in Syria?”

  1. I think at times God must be heartbroken to see what we have done with all the treasures he has given us and our inability to take responsibility for the devastation we cause. Really living the gospel message seems to have become an additional extra to many. And I would include myself in that at times. Mans inhumanity to man – so much easier to hate than to love. But we can only live in hope and keep trying!

    • I wholeheartedly agree with you Terri.
      My only other thought is, surely God has always known us and as such, has never doubted our desire to follow Him.

  2. Thank you for a different perspective.
    I can’t get that picture out of my mind of the Syrian refugees knocking on the door of the United Kingdom and being met with: no room for you – we are full.
    There is not much any of us can do, but we can all do something, thank you so much for reminding me.
    Come Lord Jesus

  3. Thank you for these words today and other days. It seems difficult this year to feel hopeful and to sense the Light of Christmas. I know there have been other times in history when circumstances were dark as I know that God is present with us through all. In the US, many of us are living on a diet of Pepto Bismol after the election and anticipating what may come with this president-elect. I also have a very sick pt who held off getting medical treatment while waiting for a miracle to cure him. It makes my heart feel bruised and hurt to be able to do so very little. Bless you and yours, Sister.
    Sometimes the good fight comes in little baby steps. Maybe sometimes in staying still and simply praying. Those are hard lessons.

  4. A beautiful essay — probably prayer is the best that can be done at this point. There are many factions battling in Syria at this point — and many of these have vowed to fight to the death. Only God can change hearts and minds such as these.

  5. Thank you for your daily guidance and teaching so badly needed on this day when one feels despair for the human race with Aleppo so constantly in our hearts and minds.

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