The Two Kinds of Peace
Dear friends in Christ,
Last Sunday we spoke about what seemed to be some of the contradictions in our Catholic faith. In our Sunday Gospel today we see another one. Here Jesus says, “Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” We might rightly think: “But how can this be true? Doesn’t Jesus say in other parts of the Gospel “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”? What are we to think about this “peace”, when at one moment Jesus praises it, and in another he says that He has come to smash it to pieces?
Jesus Himself gives us a hint about how to solve this in one of his sayings in the Gospel according to John. There Jesus says to his disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you.” Jesus says that the peace that he is to bring to us is not what the world considers peace.
Indeed, there are two different kinds of peace. One kind is the peace of ceasing to combat against the most profound of all our battles over the earth: our battle against sin. Jesus came to destroy sin and its consequences, and He fights against it with all his strength and love. Surely this is what He was talking about in our Gospel today. In our struggle against sin, we too must be willing to sacrifice even our most intimate ties to others if these become an opportunity for sin to enter our lives. An everyday example of this is how much parents have to struggle to educate their children to choose the good path in their lives, even when this causes tension that the children will not always immediately understand. Another example is how courageous Catholic politicians must be to uphold Christian morality today…how much easier it would be to just “make peace” with everyone, and slowly let our families and our nation literally fall apart. This is the peace “as the world gives it”, and we must never make a pact with it.
But the other kind of peace is the peace which Jesus offers: it is the peace that comes to us when we never betray our consciences, when we at least try to be faithful to God and our neighbour in every instance of our lives. Though on the surface this effort might cause us much trouble and anxiety, in the depths of our hearts we know that it is the only way for a good and honest person to be true to himself, to his loved ones, and to God. Shakespeare said this in one brief sentence: “If I lose my honor, I lose myself”.
We as parishioners of Immaculate Conception Parish should always strive to fight against the peace that pacts with everything that destroys what is good in us, no matter how much it is in vogue, and strive for that peace which Jesus gives when we try to live the Gospel with all our hearts.
God bless you and your families, Fr. Bruce Wren, L.C.