Bread and Bullets
17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

There are strange sights on the highway that I often travel. One is likely to meet tanks and armored vehicles full of armed men. One also meets trucks with food intended for evacuees. Some vehicles bring bullets, others deliver bread. This has become part of daily living in many of our neighboring towns and villages. Just this month while I was saying masss in a nearby parish, there were evacuees in the parish hall. They were there to avoid the bullets while fighting between two warring political factions was going on.

Action starter: Begin with the conviction that peace is possible.

The ready availability of bullets and the lack of bread (or rice) is not just a fact of life in some parts of our country. This is a worldwide reality, from Pakistan to Afghanistan, Somalia, Palestine, Iran, and Iraq. Some other countries are recovering from the effects of conflicts -- Vietnam, the former Yugoslavia, Ireland, South Africa, East Timor, Uganda and Ruanda, The list can go on and on.

This is not what God wants. God is the God ofl ife. This is revealed in Jesus’ acts of healing and feeding. Todays’ Gospel tells the story of Jesus feeding five thousand. This action of Jesus is a sign of the coming of the kingdom where there will be no more hunger or thirrst.

God is not pleased with wars, no matter the claims of various armies that God is on their side. There are many justifications for waging war. Politicians say that war is just another form of diplomacy. Ideologues see war as a tool to achieve goals, asserting that power comes from the barrel of a gun. Ethicists argue about the justifications for violence, even for “justified war.”

Some peole profit from wars – the arms industry and the gunrunners or merchants of death The losers are the victims of these tools of destruction.

Some say that living in the real world is also accepting then reality of conflict and violence. This is the pragmatic stance. We live and let live, and sometimes we live and let die. A vision of a peacefulo world is an idealistic position, it seems. Yet somebody has to dream dreams of peace and harmony. Somebody has to take the steps to end wars. This brings to mind one person whose advocacy in the Philippines is for a gunless society, With the proliferation of guns in this country, his cause seems to be quixotic.

The disciples of Jesus have to keep alive that dream of peace and harmony, even when seemingly impractical, amidst a culture of violence. People do not need more bullets. They need bread.