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Diocese’s interfaith dialogue officer reflects on violence

‘May Peace be in your Home’

By the Rev. Greg Fiennes-Clinton

A friend often closes her emails with the tag line, “May Peace be in your Home.” It has always struck me as a beautiful way to end what may otherwise be a routine email. This weekend has been anything but peaceful or routine for the citizens of Paris, or for those closer to us at home.

This past Friday, approximately 600 lay and clergy leaders met to discuss the future of the Diocese of Toronto. Throughout the meeting, we heard success stories of compassion and ministry in all parts of the Diocese. As we discussed the ministry of our Diocese, I noticed screens flicker to life with news of the attacks on Paris. The contrast between our conversations about exercising Christian ministry and these violent attacks was shocking. We stopped and prayed for all those impacted by this tragic act of violence.

It did not take long for hate-based violence to cross the Atlantic and impact the lives of ordinary Ontarians. Since Friday, the press has reported an attack on the Masjid Al-Salaam mosque. It is estimated that arson has caused $80,000 damage to this faith community in Peterborough.  At 3 p.m. on Monday afternoon, a woman was attacked at a schoolyard in Flemingdon Park in Toronto because she is Muslim. Both of these incidents are being investigated by police as apparent hate crimes that seem to be motivated by retaliation for the attacks in Paris.

Whether across the ocean or here in Ontario, acts of terror and violence have something in common. They are fueled by hatred. If we want to bring such acts to an end, we must learn to respond to the darkness of hatred with the light of love and compassion. I saw these concepts of light and compassion being expressed as I read the stories of Peterborough churches rallying to support their city’s only mosque. These actions echo the very heart of Jesus’ words to His disciples: “But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Matthew 6:27-28). Imagine a world in which everyone sought to do good to their enemies and made every effort to bless those who hated them. What would that kind of world look like?

In the words of the author of the Letter to the Hebrews, let’s “provoke each other to acts of love and good deeds” so that the world Jesus envisioned might be more than a figment of our imagination.

In Peace,

The Rev. Greg Fiennes-Clinton
Interfaith Dialogue Officer
Diocese of Toronto

This reflection by the Rev. Greg Fiennes-Clinton comes with the commendation of Archbishop Colin Johnson. For related articles and a video, see:

Anglicans rally around Peterborough Muslims
Archbishop reflects on violence in wrap-up to Synod
Video: the Rev. David Giffen of the Church of the Transfiguration, Toronto, preaches on “Maranatha”