In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for “peace” is shalom. It dealt with relationships between people, nations and God. Peace was to be the ideal in each of these areas, and shalom marked a promise kept.
Being a Peacekeeper was the highest calling. It was therefore fitting that mourners at Private Seán Rooney’s funeral hailed him as a hero whose death pierced the heart of our nation.
Principal celebrant Father Derek Ryan said peacekeeping is a risky business and only the families of those who have served abroad are truly aware of the dangers.
At this time of year, when families are so looking forward to the return of their loved ones, it was unspeakably sad that the 24-year-old was to be returned for his funeral.
His mother Natasha spoke inspiringly about holding her son for the first time at 16. His arrival had spurred her on to make the best of life.
“I promise my son that I will stay strong,” she said.
No mother should have to make such a terrible sacrifice.
Pope Francis wrote: “To be a mother is a great treasure. Mothers, in their unconditional and self-sacrificing love for their children, are the antidote to individualism; they are the greatest enemies of war.”
There is something broken in our world when it falls to a mother to take on such burdens.
The Irish Armed Forces have seen the loss of 48 of their members in southern Lebanon. Every traumatic death was one too many. Those responsible must be stopped.
Pte Rooney’s funeral was held in the Church of the Holy Family. How poignant it seems that the young soldier was murdered just 250 km from Jerusalem, where the Christmas story began.
The protection and security of people are the focus of the UN mission.
The late great war correspondent Robert Fisk wrote: “After the Allied victory in 1918, at the end of my father’s war, the victors divided up the lands of their former enemies.
“In just 17 months they created the borders of Northern Ireland, Yugoslavia and most of the Middle East.
“And I’ve spent my entire career – in Belfast and Sarajevo, in Beirut and Baghdad – watching the people burn within those borders.”
Too many people have sacrificed far too much to put out these fires, but today, fortunately, many of them have been extinguished – forever, we hope.
However, as we see in Ukraine, violence and death are constants of our time.
“The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are bad, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it,” Einstein said.
Seldom have we called more on the efforts of all who work to promote and maintain peace than now. By prioritizing the lives of others, they are putting themselves at risk.
They must never be forgotten or taken for granted.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/editorial/our-brave-peacekeepers-put-their-lives-on-the-line-for-others-42239627.html Our brave peacekeepers risk their lives for others