January 11, 2019

Christ the Cornerstone

Christ is way to achieve lasting peace in our hearts, world

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson

“Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God” (Mt 5:9).

We begin each new year with a fervent prayer for peace. We long for the world of tomorrow, the time when there will be no more discord among individuals, families, neighbors or nations. Having just celebrated the birth of the Prince of Peace, we hope that his coming will inspire us all to live differently. We begin each new year with the profound hope that we can set aside our jealousy, our fear, our desire for economic control and political domination, our aversion to strangers from foreign lands and our discomfort with those who are different from us.

What is peace? It’s the absence of violence, certainly, but it’s also much more. St. Augustine called it “the tranquility of order,” which is certainly an important aspect of peace. When we’re at peace, we’re not filled with anxiety; our homes are not filled with loud arguments and discord; our neighborhoods are safe and

well-ordered, not threatening or chaotic; and nations, races and peoples live together in harmony and mutual respect without suffering the horrors of prejudice, enmity or war.

True peace is more than just good order or civility. The Second Vatican Council (“Gaudium et Spes,” #78) teaches that peace is the work of justice and the effect of charity. Peace is much more than the absence of war or the coexistence of nations. Peace is a gift from God, the sum total of many gifts from God that helps us live fully with hearts full of justice and love.

What is justice? Justice is structuring human affairs, and the organization of society, in accordance with God’s plan. We are just when we treat others fairly and when we work together to protect the innocent and the vulnerable from violence or evil. We are just when all people (wealthy and poor, strong and weak) live together in mutual respect.

What is charity? The sharing of self that we learn most perfectly from God, who is love, and who shows us how to be for others in everything we say and do. Authentic charity is not self-serving or self-gratifying. It is the generous sharing of ourselves (all that we have and all that we are) in ways that connect us intimately with God and with our fellow human beings—those who are closest to us (family, friends and neighbors) and those who are far from us (strangers, social outcasts, even enemies).

We too often pray for peace, forgetting that acceptance and forgiveness (the way of the meek, the way of Jesus Christ) is the only way to peace. Lasting peace—the kind that is more than a temporary ceasefire or a periodic break between hostile actions—is the effect of charity. As Pope Francis says, “Peace involves work, it is not about staying calm and doing nothing. No! True peace means working so that everyone has a solution to the problems, to the needs, that they have in their land, in their homeland, in their family, in their society.”

If we want peace, we must let go of our desire for revenge, and we must be willing to let old wounds heal through the saving grace of God’s love. Christ has reconciled us with God and with each other. We have been forgiven so that we may forgive others. We have been shown mercy so that we might let go of our desire for vengeance against those who do us harm to a higher form of justice that is informed by love. There is no real peace without forgiveness.

Peace will happen when we let go of all anger and let God’s will triumph over our selfishness. When that day comes, nations will unite in a world order that respects the fundamental human rights and authentic cultural diversity of nations and peoples. Neighbors will help and respect one another. Families will live together joyfully. And each woman and man on Earth will be calm, untroubled and at peace.

When that day comes, Christ will come again, and his peace will be established throughout all creation. In the meantime, as we begin this new year, let’s continue our search for peace by recommitting ourselves to the work of justice and by loving God and our neighbor unselfishly as Christ loves us.

May the peace of Christ be with you in 2019 and always. Through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace, may all humankind find happiness and joy in working for justice and in sharing God’s gifts with others in Jesus’ name.

Happy New Year! †

Local site Links: