- April 19th, 2019 -
Thursday night I had the privilege to celebrate again this year a Jewish Seder Meal and the Christian Holy/Maundy Thursday with a small group of committed friends.
As we read our way through the Passover liturgy, we were reminded of the bitterness of the Israelites captivity in Egypt and of the way that Jesus of Nazareth, like the Prophets before him, sought to bring liberty to those “captured” in a system of imperial injustice that most profoundly harmed the imprisoned, orphaned, widowed, and stranger.
The empire of Jesus’ day—one that forced his family to become refugees and eventually nailed him to a cross—echoes in many of the populist policies of today while the Project Partners around the world that IPM accompanies continue the millennial struggle to be recognized for their inherent human dignity and equality in God’s eyes.
IPM’s deep, long-term relationship with the peoples of Central America–El Salvador & Nicaragua in particular–causes us to challenge the rationale and efficacy of recent US government policies that destabilize nations on one hand while preventing the freedom of movement of the most vulnerable with the other. Such policies only lead to further emigration–the very reality that our current administration seeks to stem. Similar policies toward people of Muslim descent, belie the oft-repeated claim that the USA is a “Christian” nation. Failure to confront the authoritarian dictatorships of our day, which punish the very people for whom both Moses and Jesus sought liberation, is perhaps the greatest heresy of our time.
This Passover and Easter weekend it’s vital that we remind ourselves of what the shared Abrahamic faith of so many of us commands: that we act justly, love mercifully, and walk humbly with our God. We join our voices with the IPM’s multi-faith Partners to insist that another world is indeed possible AND that it starts with each of us.
A good friend recently reminded me that Mahatma Gandhi shared similar sentiments in the midst of his own struggle with empire. Gandhi said this: “nonviolence does not mean meek submission to the will of the evildoer, but it means the pitting of one’s whole soul against the will of the tyrant. Working under this law of our being, it is possible for a single being to defy the whole might of an unjust empire to save (one’s) honor, (one’s) religion, (one’s) soul, and lay the foundation for that empire’s fall or regeneration.”
This holiday weekend is a time to remind ourselves of the power that each of us has within our hearts & hands to be a seed of liberation & love… a promise of both regeneration & resurrection.
I pray that you find such inspiration as you commemorate Passover & Easter. And, may the peace that passes all understanding continue to guide us all in our common effort to make this world a more just, peace-filled, and hopeful place.
Joseph F. Cistone
December 1, 2015