Gift of Peace
Fr. Jerry Orbos, SVD told in his book, Just a Moment (February 8, 2008) that when he was in Canada, he met Fr. Jerry Desmont, who at 70 is so full of life, goodness, simplicity and love. When he asked him what is his secret he told Fr. Orbos: “Don’t let anything or anyone destroy your peace. Keep your peace. If you get angry, you lose your peace. If you worry, you lose your peace. If you get upset, you’ve been set up!”
In today’s gospel Jesus says: “My peace I give to you.” Notice the emphasis on “my peace.” By saying these words about peace, Jesus is teaching us that His peace is something different from other forms of peace. There is a difference between what we think of peace and the real peace that comes from Him. It is because we think of peace only as the absence of war. We think that when the two nations are not at war, they are at peace with each other. Maybe they are preparing for war instead. In other words, our understanding of peace is avoidance of trouble and a refusal to face unpleasant things. Then He specifies negatively: “Not as the world gives do I give it to you.” He offers no positive definition of his peace, but at least we know what it is not. Christ’ peace is more than the absence of trouble or unpleasant things. It includes everything which makes for our highest good.
What is peace? According to somebody who is a priest said that St. Augustine has a beautiful description of peace. According to him, peace means the following: The first is “The serenity of the mind,” that is, allowing Jesus to take control of our thoughts, our fears and our worries. The second is “the simplicity of the heart” that is, being contented with what we have and what we have received as gifts from God, and finally, the third is the “tranquillity of the soul” that is, being fully reconciled with God and others.
Through this definition of St. Augustine, therefore I can say that peace is not something outside of ourselves or external to us. It does not depend on local, national or international agreements or the result of a precarious balance of opposing forces all ready to pounce on one another if the status quo were to change. Of course we need these also. But peace is something internal. It resides in the hearts of those who are not disturbed by any conflict outside. It depends on reconciliation God has given to us through Jesus as a gift. Peace is not just the result of precarious balance but also it is the outcome of justice. And the most important element of justice is to give God what is due to Him, that is, there can be no true peace unless we are reconciled with our Creator. People who pray for peace are not automatically peaceful people, Fr. Bobby Titco said. Peaceful people are those who make reconcile with God and with one another.
I read this reflection that in 1979 Mother Teresa of Calcutta received the Nobel Peace Award for her extraordinary works of mercy for the poorest of the poor in the slums of Calcutta, India. Mother Teresa’s works had a transcendental effect on the people of the world regardless of religion, ideology and race. But she had criticized by the liberationist leanings who said that instead of liberating people from misery and poverty, she was doing the opposite that is perpetuating the miseries of these people! Despite the opposition, she went about doing her work in the spirit of humility coupled with a prayerful life. No wonder her aura exuded serenity and peace.
“The absence of conflict is not peace. But the absence of Christ in our lives is always the absence of peace. Jesus is our Peace.”