Christ’s peace must reign in your hearts, since as members of the one body you have been called to that peace. (Col. 3:15)
Today, we can shout out with the same vigorous dismay as Jeremiah did long ago: Peace , peace, and there is no peace (Jer. 8:11). All of us long for peace while fearing the possible consequences of the resulting violence portrayed so vividly in our daily media. Too often, however, we are aware only of the violence “out there,” neglecting to see that we, too, contribute to the local and worldwide scene.
Whether we address our deity as Allah, Yahweh, Lord, or Jesus, each of us is expressing belief in the one who is the focus of our inward journey and who, consequently, has an influence on our external behavior.
Mahatma Gandhi once said that the way of peace is the way of truth. . . . Indeed lying is the mother of violence. Thomas Merton commented that this was hard for us to accept because we are all liars to an extent; we tell lies about ourselves even to ourselves. Pope John Paul II, quoting and expanding on the thought of Paul VI said, If you want peace, work for justice. Development is the new name for peace. St. James tells us that the fruit of justice is sown in peace by those who make peace.
Peace at any cost is not peace at all. If, to obtain it, we sacrifice truth, we have what St. Benedict labeled a false peace. To have peace, we must first of all have harmony within ourselves, we must be true to ourselves. Otherwise, any attempts we make to achieve external concord will be illusory, for we can only externalize the violence we experience within.
The first step in becoming peacemakers, therefore, is to seek truth and justice toward ourselves and others in our daily lives. Then, even though we do not consider ourselves in the forefront of the peace movement or we cannot participate in rallies, we will have an impact on our world, for we will be like our God who is a God of peace, not of disorder (1 Cor. 14:33). And all of us can pray for this great good.
A heart at peace gives life to the body (Proverbs 14:30 ).
—Sister Mary E. Penrose, OSB
Sister Mary E. Penrose is a Sister of St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, Minnesota. She edits readings for the liturgical Hours and writes reflections for the Community. And she is a tutor for the African Sisters attending The College of St. Scholastica. She was editor of a journal, Spirit & Life, for 18 years.