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Where to find peace

Fr. Roy Cimagala
Candidly Speaking

 

Fr. Roy CimagalaTrue peace can only come from Christ. “Peace is my farewell to you, my peace is my gift to you,” Christ says. “I do not give it to you as the world gives peace.” (Jn 14,27) We have to understand these words well, accepting them first of all by faith, and then analyzing them with all the resources of our God-given human powers.

We should never depart from this peace of Christ. All our efforts to come up with an estimation of peace for our personal health or for social, economic or political well-being, should always be inspired by this peace Christ gives us. It cannot be any other way.

Christ is the prince of peace. He knows how to tackle any and all causes of trouble, conflict and war. He meets them head-on, not escaping from them, and in fact converts these causes of evil and war into paths to goodness and human redemption.

He goes straight to the very core of evil, the malice that can spring in the hearts of men, the primal source of all our troubles, conflicts and wars. And he does the ultimate to annul the effects of evil, by assuming them himself, killing them with his own death, and conquering them with his own resurrection. He always has the last word.

While in pursuing and trying to gain peace we may have to do some practical and temporary things, we should never forget that the ultimate source of peace is Christ himself who is God who became man for our sake. We should always go to him, praying and asking for his help. We should never set him aside.

Following him will indeed involve effort and sacrifice, but we have to look at the bigger picture, the long-range vision. We will be asked to deny ourselves and to carry the cross, we will be asked to undertake a continuing ascetical struggle, but all these come with the territory.

The peace Christ gives us is the peace he himself won for us on the cross. It is a peace that comes with some war, with some violence—against our weaknesses, our temptations, and sins in all their forms and variety.

He himself warned us about this. “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force.” (Mt 11,12)

We should be wary when we are presented with an easy program of life that can give us some instant advantages but will certainly lead us nowhere but disaster. This is the kind of peace the world gives us, as our Lord hinted. Its perks and advantages are actually only ephemeral, short-lived and shallow.

To have peace in each one of us and later in the world, the kind that abides and lasts, and that leads to the everlasting peace in heaven, we need to wage war here on earth, a constant war that goes on until death.

This is part of our human condition. Our weakened, wounded nature requires it, not to mention, the objective reality that we have enemies all around us. Our Catechism tells us of the seven capital sins with which we have to contend with all throughout our life. They are: pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony and sloth.

These capital sins are embedded in us. No use denying them. We have to acknowledge their existence and learn how to deal with them.

Besides, St. Paul also tells us about the formidable spiritual enemies around us. ¨For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.¨ (Eph 6,12) How true!

The Catechism also tells us that “peace cannot be attained on earth without safeguarding the goods of persons, free communication among men, respect for the dignity of persons and peoples, and the assiduous practice of fraternity. Peace is the tranquility of order. Peace is the work of justice and effect of charity.” (CCC 2304)

All these requirements of peace necessarily involve some struggle, some warfare. We have to learn how to make a war of peace and joy, and at the same time how to suffer, since suffering will be unavoidable.

The secret is simply to identify ourselves with Christ who identified himself with his Father whenever we suffer in any form, physical, mental, emotional, psychological, moral, spiritual, etc.

This act of identifying ourselves with Christ is simply reprising in ourselves what Christ himself did—believing and following his Father’s will, ‘Not my will but yours be done.’

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