In New York City, on the corner of East 43rd Street and First Avenue, and directly across from the United Nations, is a wall inscribed with the words from Isaiah 2:4: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares.” Such a promise can seem rather unrealistic in a world constantly threatened by war. From the volatile nuclear arms program of North Korea, to the hundreds slain so senselessly in Somalia this past week, and through so many violent conflicts the world over, we can wonder if the prospect of peace is even a remote possibility. In troublesome times, however, the Church cannot remain passive.
This past September 20, the Holy See joined some 50 other countries in signing the “Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.” In his October 10 statement to the United Nations, Archbishop Bernardito Auza of the Holy See’s Mission to the UN described the treaty as a sign of progress “toward a world free of the threat of nuclear destruction.” In the face of conflict and war, the Church both prays and works for a brighter future, pointing inexorably towards a better way. It is not merely a pious option but an obligation of faith.
Sacred Scripture is replete with cautionary tales about individuals and nations trying to build a world without God and suffering the consequences. Far greater, though, are the biblical examples of those who trust in the promises of God and act accordingly. Isaiah the prophet reminds us not merely that we can beat swords into plowshares, but that we shall.