Do you love me? We hear in the gospel, that whoever loves Jesus will keep his word. We keep his word when we love unconditionally without judging. We are all equal in God’s eyes. Neither slave nor master holds the advantage. We know that this is not the case in our world. We have divisions of all kinds. We are divided by race and ethnicity. We are divided by wealth.
We are divided by education. We are divided by politics both within and outside of the church. These differences have often led to conflict and even war. There are hostile encounters at public meetings. There have been over 200 mass shootings this year. (A mass shooting is defined here as killing or injuring at least four people.) The war in Ukraine has been in the news for weeks and the sad fact is that there are other armed conflicts taking place in the world today.
A troubled world cries out for help. Our One in Christ Communities cannot resolve most of these issues in this world. However, we can bring peace to our spheres of influence. Peace is the gift that is meant to be shared. What is peace? Here is a reflection by Mary K. Whitacre. “Peace is a complicated word with many interpretations. Beauty pageant contestants offer generic desires for world peace.
We deploy our well-equipped military around the world as peacekeepers. Some people passionately fight for uncontrolled gun ownership, which they believe will ensure peace.
Perhaps we are looking for peace in the wrong place. Jesus urges, “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” His words refocus us to the question, “What needs to happen in our hearts so that we can find peace?” In contrast to today’s uneasy balance of power, Jesus modeled an authentic peace, which is far beyond what the world can offer. It is a peace that begins and ends in love.
Tensions in families are often unavoidable. However, which is more likely to bring reassuring healing to this friction — anger and revenge, or compassion and forgiveness? Turbulence in the markets can leave us greedily scrambling for an economic advantage, or we can humbly trust God to provide for our needs.
We can become hardened to the strangers waiting at our borders, sleeping under our bridges, or languishing in our jails. Or the strangers can become our brothers and sisters, as we can extend a warm embrace, a helping hand and a patient concern. In the end, we can allow the world’s anxieties to empty our hearts, or we can open them to the fullness of love.
What does it look like to be transformed by the peace of Christ? It could simply mean looking directly at a cashier and smiling; accepting that there is often more than one right answer, or even conceding your preferred answer. It could mean patiently listening to Grandma repeating the same stories in an endless loop; refraining from political bullying and looking for realistic compromise; anonymously mowing your overwhelmed neighbor’s yard rather than complaining; or sacrificing what is best for you in the interest of the greatest common good.”
(May 2019, Celebration, p.24, The National Catholic Reporter Publishing Company, Kansas City, MO.)
Whenever we share love, it is multiplied in our hearts, our lives and the world. We can create an atmosphere for enduring peace to thrive in our home, our school, our workplace, and our community. The gift of peace we have been given so that others can know and grow in peace. Where and how are you being called to share your love and promote the peace of Christ in your sphere of influence today?
Continued blessings on your Easter days!