LETTER FROM A MINISTER


שלום

Shalom

This month is the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World
War. But unfortunately peace in Europe only lasted just over 20 years
before the Second World War started, that brought again horrendous
suffering to millions of people. Since 1945 Western Europe has been
blessed with peace, which is something to be profoundly grateful for. But
in other parts of the world numerous wars have taken place and in fact
there are many military conflicts today.

When the Bible speaks of peace, it talks about more than just the
absence of such armed conflicts (although this is extremely important). The
Jewish word "Shalom" is not simply absence of war but complete peace. It
includes contentment, completeness, wellbeing and harmony. This is
something that is not only needed in the relations between peoples,
nations or opposing groups, but it is something every human being needs
and, I think, also deeply longs for.

While we are powerless to establish peace in the wider world, we
can all try to bring Shalom, complete peace, to our own lives. And the best
way to achieve it is by following God's command to love our neighbour as
ourselves. So one way of remembering the end of the First World War is
by adopting a loving attitude to everybody we meet. Not easy, but it is a
good way to "do our bit" for peace.

Deacon Klaus Reidel,
St Bede's Catholic Church