Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?
While we work for peace in the world, we have to wonder what Jesus, who said, “Blessed are the peace-makers”, meant by this radical statement. When we think of peace, we tend to think of an absence of war. The 20th century was full of wars, even what we call World Wars. Now we continue a ‘war on terror’ in the Middle East while drug cartel violence begins to permeate our borders. All the while, since 1973, an average of 4000 children per day are killed by abortion in America. How much control do we actually have over world peace, whether traditional war between nations or the domestic violence that has destroyed (50 million killed in 37 years) more lives than all the wars in the history of the world put together?
Genuine peace is only possible through an adherence to the truth. But truth, Jesus says, will bring division as some may accept it and some don’t. Look at the division in our own country over various moral issues, sometimes driving a line straight through a family. This can test our Christian allegiance to God above people. Thomas à Kempis says in the Imitation of Christ, “Better to anger another human rather than our God.” We must be determined to serve the Lord regardless of what others think. This takes detachment from human opinion and personal ego. It also takes the kind of relationship with Christ that can detect His will over and against what may be popular.
Our Gospel calls us today to that kind of fidelity. St. Ambrose says, “It is necessary that we should esteem the human less than the divine. If honor is to be paid to parents, how much more to your parents’ Creator, to whom you owe gratitude for your parents! If they by no means recognize their Father, how do you recognize them?” He does not say children should reject a father but that God is to be set before all. You are not forbidden to love your parents, but you are forbidden to prefer them to God.
Real peace does begin with me. After me, I have little control over other’s responses. They may or may not reject any peace offered. The world will fall out accordingly. Christians must do their best to work for peace, but realize that it can only spread through hearts dedicated to truth and love. Our Pope Benedict writes in his encyclical Caritas in Veritatis,
“Only in truth does charity shine forth, only in truth can charity be authentically lived. Truth is the light that gives meaning and value to charity. That light is both the light of reason and the light of faith, through which the intellect attains to the natural and supernatural truth of charity: it grasps its meaning as gift, acceptance, and communion. Without truth, charity degenerates into sentimentality. Love becomes an empty shell, to be filled in an arbitrary way. In a culture without truth, this is the fatal risk facing love.”
Let us pray for this gift of love which “casts out all fear” and the truth which “sets us free.”
- ► 2011 (50)
- ▼ August (5)