On the morning of 3rd February 1986, in the town of Rahim Yar Khan, Punjab, Pakistan, hundreds of college students from Kwaja Farid College stormed through the gates of the Catholic Church compound where a Spiritan community lived. The students had been directed by a college professor to invade the compound – in response to the incursion of the Israeli defence forces into Al Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem the previous day. The students proceeded to wreak havoc in the compound. Thankfully, no one was seriously injured but the parish church, parish house and vehicles of two parishes suffered huge damage. In the church all the windows and doors were smashed, a large crucifix mutilated, the tabernacle thrown to the ground and a large Bible stolen.
The ground floor of the parish house met a similar fate. All the windows were smashed. The floor inside was littered with broken glass. The vehicles of our parish and of the neighbouring parish, parked beside the parish house, were also smashed.
That day Christians of the parish looked on the scene with tears in their eyes. Our church had been thrashed and we felt that we had been thrashed too. Christians of all denominations united to face the tragedy.
Next morning, we were all surprised when a group of Muslim doctors, lawyers and teachers marched into the compound and came to the parish house. There in the presence of the Bishop of Multan, Christian leaders, Spiritans and the parish team, the group apologised for the destruction caused by their sons (youth of their town). They offered to repair all the damage. That day, the repair work began and within a couple of weeks was completed. I felt real joy at the restoration of the church and a new beginning for all concerned.
In this Season of Creation, we can awaken – re-awaken to the beauty of creation – a beauty gifted to us by God. We can also see that creation has been horribly ransacked by humans and the earth is in a very precarious position.
The gospel of today shows Jesus inspiring his disciples to move from disharmony to harmony. The mending of creation is the place where I can most clearly see God’s work, wherever and whenever a battered earth and fractured community have a new beginning.