No. 10 Peace on Earth?
We are into the second decade of the third millennium, but peace on earth remains little more than a dream, tantalisingly possible to some, but no more than a sigh to others. Nonetheless, however faltering and fraught with failure attempts to realise that dream may be, the search goes on. In the quest, some are more diligent than others, some more vocal. However, most are circumspect about peace. As individuals and collectivities, we dance around peace, sing songs extolling peace, but do not approach too closely, through fear that peace might be more than we bargain for, that too much might be required of us if we accept its embrace. Yet, everywhere the cry is ‘Peace’: peace on earth, peace in our land, peace in our families and communities, peace in our hearts, peace with our planet. So, while we pray for peace and cry for it, we need to ask ourselves, honestly, whether we really want peace. If our response is ‘Yes,’ is it peace for all? Peace for some? Peace for my group? Peace at someone else’s expense? Peace for myself? Peace on my terms?
The Prophet Micah speaks
About 700 years before the birth of Jesus, the prophet Micah gave people clear insights into the requisites of peace in its fullness, which we may also call ‘shalom’.
Simply put, they are:
and, walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8 JB)
These are the indispensible components of shalom. Not one, or two, but all three.
Peace: Goal or Process?
Ours is a culture and a world where successful outcomes are held to be what matter most. The same goes for the quest for peace. So we raise more questions. Is peace primarily a goal and a destination which we must seek and arrive at? Something to achieve, through diligence, endeavour, and the means at our disposal? By hook or by crook? Or is it even more a process, a path to traverse, regardless of the outcome? What do you think?
Peace? Thanks, but no thanks?
Does the world see peace in this way? Or, are we as a world community pursuing peace in the wrong way; opting for pseudo-peace, something counterfeit which promises to be the real thing, but which leads away from it?
We know, as Catholics, that peace is a gift of God, and that Christ himself is Prince of Peace, and that Christ himself is our Peace. So, if we seek or want peace minus the Author of Peace, as world leaders and the general public try to do, don’t we risk ‘missing both the plot and the bus?’
Back to the Prophet Micah
What do you make of Micah’s prescription and conditions for peace? Try fleshing it all out in your mind. Then, try putting what he said into effect in your life. None of them is easy, but one is far more difficult, demanding and important than the other two. Which one is it? Why?
Shouldn’t we pray about the basis of Shalom and of how to apply it to our world and our own lives? For is not each one of us is called to be a peacemaker?
May we examine these more closely later on in this series?
St. Francis of Assisi’s Prayer for Peace
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Jesus’ Blessing of Peace to Those who Love Him
‘Anyone who loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him and make a home in him’ (Jn 14:23 NJB).
‘Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, a peace which the world cannot give, this is my gift to you’ (Jn 14:27 NJB).
‘As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love’ (Jn 15:9 RSV).