Friday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
(Nahum 2:1.3.3:1-3.6-7; Matthew 16:24-28)
In today’ first reading the prophet Nahum describes the ravage of Assyria’s war against Israel. He mentions “plunder” and “looting.” He speaks of “the flame of the sword” and “the flash of the spear.” He does not hesitate to include “the many slain, the heaping corpses, the endless bodies to stumble upon.” Seventy-five years ago the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. In this time of mournful remembering, Nahum’s imagery conjures up those horrible events.
In a sense the atomic bombs were no worse – one might even say “not as bad” – as the penetration bombing of Tokyo and Dresden. If not exactly targeted, civilians were not avoided in those devastating air raids. Of course, the injustices perpetrated by German and Japanese military needs recalling in any account of war’s atrocities. Nevertheless, the atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki catapulted war into a new stratosphere. These bombs not only killed and maimed; they also left their mark on future generations. Children will continue to be born with transmuted genes.
It is absolutely necessary that humanity strives for the elimination of nuclear weapons. Christians can lead the way. By denying ourselves, as Jesus exhorts in today’s gospel, we can show the world a better way. What if Christians held ecumenical prayer vigils and peaceful demonstrations exhibiting humankind’s desire for nuclear disarmament? Is it not possible that in time, with God’s help, these efforts have positive effect?