Jesus Christ: Source and Submit of Our Peace!
Readings: (1st: Ish 66, 10-14; Ps: 65, 1-7. 16. 20; 2nd: Gal 6, 14-18 Gos: Lk 10,1-12. 17-20)
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers, Province of Nigeria South East. He is currently the Parochial Vicar of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church Woliwo Onitsha, Anambra State, Nigeria. For more details and comments contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, Phone: +23408063767512, +23408024942843
In his encyclical, “Pacem in terris” (on Peace on Earth), Pope John XXIII begins his message thus: “Peace on earth, which all people of every era have most eagerly yearned for, can be firmly established only if the order laid down by God be dutifully observed”. The pope reiterated the exaltation of Pius XII that: “Nothing is lost by peace…Jesus brings us peace and leaves us peace”. One of humankind’s natural desires especially at the individual and family levels is to live a peaceful and peaceable life with oneself, with others and with one’s environment. Ordinarily, one would expect that with the discovery and invention of means that make life easier and more meaningful, that humanity would enjoy more peace. Unfortunately, it has not been so. Because peace is a gift of, and from God, it must be appreciated and preserved!
On this 14th Sunday of Ordinary time therefore, the Church draws our attention to the fact that, as a resounding gift of God to humanity, Jesus Christ is the source and submit of our peace. As a gift, if not properly handle, or taken for granted, we are bound to lose it. Ikenga had a good job, because he was brought up by missionaries, he lived a very peaceful, simple, moderate and yet, comfortable life with his family. However, he succumbed to the pressure of joining one of the elite clubs in town. In order to adjust to their life style, he quickly moved into a bigger and more expensive apartment, and changed his car to one of the most flashy and latest models. Shortly after this, he was severally accosted by different sets of fierce looking people, forcing him to: “Settle us or…!” Worst still, he became so obsessed with his flashy car, that the fear of it been snatched someday made him have sleepless nights to the point that on many occasions he jumped up to the dismay of his entire family from his dreams, screaming: My car! My car!! My car!!! It then dawned on them that they have lost the peace they initially enjoyed.
In the first reading of today, God in his infinite goodness realized what we needed most, and thus opens the depth of his being for us to have peace: “Now towards her I send overflowing peace like a river.” When we allow this peace flow into our hearts and rule our lives we become fulfilled and satisfied. It is in the peace that flows from God that every other peace must take its source and anchor. Unfortunately, most of us today have lost the mark by assuming that peace has its source from the mundane. What a pity! “Peace” according to Jürgen Moltmann (1988), “means the blessed joy of a successful life, sanctification of life in the reality of all its relations. It is the fullness of life in the presence of the living God. It is the fullness of life in the mutual love of human beings and the fullness of life in the community of creation with all other creatures.” This can only flow from Jesus Christ the prince of peace! In the second reading, Paul unlike Ikenga above, refuses more troubles because, he already bears an indelible mark, which is Christ the source and submit of his peace. He refuses to give chance to the voices which cry out: “Settle us or…!” Often times we like these voices, derive joy in distorting peace, rather than let it flow from our hearts as it did from Christ’s. Rather than foster peace we derive joy in sowing seeds of discord, and rather than walk in peace, we thrive best in an atmosphere of chaos. We must make room for peace because, without it one cannot serve God and others. Paul in today’s gospel acclamation earnestly prays for us: “May the peace of Christ reign in your hearts!” It therefore suffices to note that the absence of peace in any heart, family, community, society, or nation leaves it devastated. Peace advances community, and any community that welcomes peace welcomes an opportunity for both spiritual and material prosperity. On the contrary, any individual or community that refuses the offer of peace must be ready to play host to the voices which cry out: Settle us! Settle us!! Settle us or….!!!”
No human society or individual suffering from the lack of peace can prosper until it has achieved it. Also, freedom is unthinkable without peace. “There is nothing more specifically Christian than to devote oneself to working for peace”, said Basil the Great (cf. Epistola 114, PG 32:528). This is why in the gospel of today Jesus equips us as his disciples, with the message we must bring to our world: “Peace be with this house.” It is both a gift we must offer to all and a debt we owe our world. Jesus knows full well that this is what our world needs most and he is ever ready to let us have it. With this peace that Christ offers us today we must be ready to transform our world from the culture of war, hatred, racism, and all forms of vices that destabilizes our societies. Each one of us must be ready to be that man or woman commissioned by Jesus to say to others, “Peace be with you!”
This Sunday therefore, we must bear in mind that peace only takes root in the human heart, that peace is blind to barriers of denominations, race, ideologies, philosophies, and geography, and that a powerful sense of peace grows out of an appreciation of our closeness with our creator, neighbours, and with all the tiny elements of creation. Furthermore, peace is golden! So we must actively seek it, grasp it, nurture it, and value it. Fortunately, peace is also uncontrollably contagious and spreads by contact. The spirit of peace will triumph only if we preach, teach, and act out our firm conviction that love can triumph over hate, hope over despair, and peace over chaos. Let us pray with Francis of Assisi: “Lord make me an instrument of your peace…and where there is sadness, joy.” We must dream and work for peace, so that our world will be a livable place. We must also allow ourselves to be instruments through which peace is mediated to our world and people. Therefore, “the peace of Christ which we celebrate today must leave its mark on us so that we become messengers of peace of all around us.” This is so that, rather than hear the cruel voices which yell at us: “Settle us! Settle us!! Settle us or…!!!,” we all will hear the divine and tender voice that beckons us: “Cry out with joy to God all the earth!
Peace be with you all!