Reflections During This Holy Season

April 1, 2024

Dear Members of the Georgetown University Community:
We are in a sacred time—with celebrations of the most holy of days—for our Catholic and Protestant communities, Easter; next week, our Muslim community will bring to close the month of Ramadan; our Hindu community celebrated Holi last Monday; later this month, our Jewish community will celebrate Passover; and our Orthodox Christian community will celebrate Easter in early May. For a Georgetown community built on a belief in the mutually reinforcing encounter across faiths, this is a season of hope, of possibilities. And it is a moment in which so many in our world are suffering—suffering that is felt deeply, here, in our Georgetown community.
Yesterday, in his Easter Message, Pope Francis reminded us that “Peace is never made with arms, but with outstretched hands and open hearts.” A point of focus in his Easter Message is the continuing crisis in the Middle East: “I appeal once again that access to humanitarian aid be ensured to Gaza, and call once more for the prompt release of the hostages seized on October 7 and for an immediate ceasefire in the Strip.”
On Friday, Father Arturo Sosa, S.J., the global leader—the Superior General of the Society of Jesus—in a letter to all those engaged in the work of the Jesuits, addressed the immense devastation that continues in Gaza, and wrote: “Engaged for decades in the communities and societies of the Middle East, we, as Jesuits, want to say that it need not be this way. The choice of death over life, vengeance over reconciliation, wrongdoing over justice, self-interest over relationship, violence over dialogue is a choice and not a fated destiny. There are other choices that could be made.”
This is a moment that demands we look for these other choices. In the Middle East, it begins with access to humanitarian aid, the return of the hostages, and an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. And we must recognize that so much more will be required if we can support the choices of “life…reconciliation…justice…relationship…dialogue.” These are vital issues we must address to achieve lasting peace.
In a message I shared with our community on October 8, after the horrific attack by Hamas, I began by citing a passage in a prayer earlier that day from Pope Francis: “Let it be understood that terrorism and war do not lead to any resolutions, but only to the death and the suffering of so many innocent people.” These words still resonate today. As we move to the completion of this academic season, let us commit ourselves to engage each other with “outstretched hands and open hearts” and to pursue “life…reconciliation…justice…relationship…dialogue.”
John J. DeGioia