In the face of the Hamas campaign of terror which has to be resisted by Israel, I am moved to focus on the suffering and trauma of the many innocent victims and their families in Israel and Gaza. The biblical passage that keeps coming to me is that of Rachel weeping for her children: 

The Rt. Revd. Christopher Chessun, Bishop of SouthwarkThus says the Lord:
A voice is heard in Ramah,
    lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
    she refuses to be comforted for her children,
    because they are no more. (Jeremiah 31.15)

And from the New Testament, Mary standing at the foot of the Cross, on which her beloved son was enduring cruel suffering to death. Words of the Stabat Mater come to mind:  

At the Cross her station keeping,
stood the mournful Mother weeping,
close to Jesus to the last.

Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
all His bitter anguish bearing,
now at length the sword has passed.

O how sad and sore distressed
was that Mother, highly blest,
of the sole-begotten One.

And later in this ancient hymn:

Can the human heart refrain
from partaking in her pain,
in that Mother's pain untold?

The Stabat Mater takes us to the foot of the Cross of our Saviour where we find Blessed Mary. It is a powerful expression of a mother’s pain at the cruel death of her son and it is impossible not to dwell on the many untold stories of suffering and grief in these terrible few days. It is important that we focus our prayers on this dimension and I commend to you the prayer approved by the Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem, Archbishop Hosam Naoum.

O God of all justice and peace,
we cry out to you in the midst of the pain and trauma

of violence and fear which prevails in the Holy Land. 

Be with those who need you in these days of suffering;

we pray for people of all faiths

– Jews, Muslims and Christians and for all people of the land. 

While we pray to you, O Lord, for an end to violence and the establishment of peace,

we also call for you to bring justice and equity to the peoples.

Guide us into your kingdom where all people are treated with dignity and honour as your children

– for to all of us  you are our Heavenly Father. 

In Jesus’ name we pray, 

We cry, Lord have mercy!