For decades U.S. presidents have tried to make progress in solving the Middle East problems between Israel and the Arabs. Little progress has been made until recent weeks when normalization treaties have emerged. But there is a very long way to go and the region remains troubled and volatile. Some nations around Israel are not interested in peace, being driven by fundamentalist ideals.
Today’s reading (Ezekiel 35) highlights how in the prophet’s day Israel’s neighbours rejoiced and sought to prosper as Assyria and Babylon overwhelmed God’s people. The prophet warns that they will suffer for their hatred. God said, “I have heard all the reviling you uttered against the mountains of Israel … they are given us to devour” you say (verse 12).
There is a parallel here in the jealousies between human beings. Our New Testament reading shows the friction between two sisters, Euodia and Syntyche (Philippians 4:2) who had laboured with Paul in the Gospel. His request is to “my fellow workers … help these women” get over their disagreement. Brothers disagree too! The brothers of Jesus, sons of his mother Mary, did not get along with Jesus until after the resurrection when their eyes were opened.
There are many examples in Scripture of brothers not getting on together! These are lessons for us. Let us open our eyes with an eternal vision and make sure we do not make the same mistakes. But if we do, then we must do our utmost to heal the rift – for the sake of Jesus. The lessons from history are both national and personal. Nations are not listening, but members of the body of Christ, must take lessons from the past.