At the least sound of provocation among my siblings, our mother would appear from nowhere to separate the warring parties saying as she did so, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

The phrase jumped out at me when reading today’s gospel. What is implied by doing to others what we would have them do to us?  And, who are our enemies?  (I think most of us do not have bona fide enemies, maybe just people we do not trust, or like, or perhaps do not want to interact with.)

Real enemies plot to kill.  They want to destabilize the good of a society or community.  Greed and power are at stake.  While few of us may have personal enemies, countries are aware of adversaries among and between themselves

I thought of this as our country debates the proposed intervention in Syria.  Normally, I would take sides quickly in such a debate, but for some reason I was hesitant.  There is proof of chemical weapons and the ignoring of international protocols prohibiting their use.  And, our own government leaders, many of whom I respect, are disagreeing with each other. I remained confused.

Then I read the letters from both Pope Francis and Jesuit Father General Adolfo Nicolas pleading for prayer and fasting in opposition to the planned U. S. intervention.  These are persons who lived and worked among the oppressed all their lives and who now speak for the faith we all cherish and love.

Father Nicolas closed his letter with a scriptural passage in which Jesus said to his disciples, after they became frustrated at not being able to cure a demonic possession: “This kind of evil is annihilated only by prayer and fasting.”  I knew which side I had to take.

—Sr. Mary Ann Flannery, S.C. is Executive Director of Jesuit Retreat House, Cleveland OH.