Sunday, July 26, 2015

Daily Thought For July 26, 2015

God's Gift of Peace

Peace is the gift that Jesus Christ brought us from heaven, his gift, the gift of God. It is a gift so beautiful, so profound, so all-embracing, and efficacious, that we shall never truly comprehend it.

We might say concerning peace what our Lord said of himself to the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well: “If you knew the gift of God …” (Jn 4:10). Truly, if we understood this God-given gift of peace, we could appreciate how it is the synthesis, the very peak, so to speak, of all the graces and heavenly blessings we have received in Christ Jesus.

Peace is the seal of Christ. It is not just one of his many gifts; it is, in a certain way, his own gift. When Jesus appeared in the world on that unforgettable night in Bethlehem, the angels proclaimed peace. On another unforgettable night, the last that he spent on earth, the pivotal night of the Cenacle and the Eucharist, Jesus left peace to his loved ones as a testament of his love: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you” (Jn 14:27).

Our Lord’s customary greeting to his apostles after his resurrection was “Peace be with you!” Furthermore, he recommended that in pursuing their apostolic mission, they should always say these words upon arriving at any house: “Peace be with you” (Jn 20:21, 26), and any person of peace who dwelt there should receive their peace; if not, their good wishes for peace should return to the apostles.…

Our Lord’s peace has distinctive characteristics, which call for at least a brief consideration. First, it is a peace exclusively his own; he has a monopoly on peace. On the eve of his passion, he said to his disciples: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives” (Jn 14:27).

The world, which counterfeits everything, cannot counterfeit peace, no matter how much it tries. It misrepresents joy; the world’s happiness is always superficial and sometimes even bitter. The world counterfeits wisdom, dazzling the credulous with a showy but empty knowledge. It counterfeits love, giving this sacred name to mere passion or to base egoism. The world, the offspring of Satan, father of lies, is essentially an imposter, falsifying everything. But it is powerless in counterfeiting one thing: peace. The world cannot give peace because peace is a divine thing; it is the seal of Jesus Christ.

A second characteristic of our Lord’s peace is its profundity. It is not superficial, merely exterior, the peace of the tomb or the desert. Such is not really peace, but solitude, emptiness, desolation. The peace of God, on the other hand, reaches even to the depths of our hearts. It pervades our innermost being, penetrating it like an exquisite perfume. Peace is plenitude; it is life.

Thirdly, peace is indestructible. Nothing and no one can force the peace of heaven out of a person who has received this gift of God. Neither the persecutions of tyrants, nor the snares of the devil, nor the vicissitudes of earth can disturb a soul in which God has established his peace.

On the night before his passion, Jesus told his apostles that he gave them his joy and added: “… and no one will take your joy from you” (Jn 16:22). The same may be said of peace: “Nobody can take it away from you.” Everything else may be taken away from us: our homes, property, liberty, and even our lives. In a certain sense, we can be deprived of happiness. It is true that perfect joy can be experienced even when the eyes weep and the heart suffers, but such heights are characteristic of only very elevated, perfect souls. Consequently enemies may take from us, in some measure, even our joy. But they can never deprive us of peace when Jesus has given it to us. Peace can continue its reign in our hearts in spite of the miseries, sadness, and bitterness of life.

Finally, the peace of Christ is a rich peace, full of sweetness and mildness. Saint Paul describes it as “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Phil 4:7). This peace is the only form of happiness unparalleled upon earth; it is the substance of heaven. Without the splendors of the beatific vision, without the overflowing happiness of that everlasting state, peace is the substance of what we hope to enjoy in heaven.…
But is it always possible to preserve peace of soul? Should our hearts never be disturbed by anything at all?… I would like to present the means whereby the soul may preserve peace despite all obstacles.

The first path to peace is faith. In fact, if we lived by faith, we would live in peace.…

Faith teaches that God loves us, and that he loves us not as a group, but personally, individually. “He loved me!” (cf. Gal 2:20). Each one of us can make these words of Saint Paul our own without fear of error. God knows my name; he has engraved my image in his heart. Still more, I can be assured that his heart is all mine because our Lord cannot love as we do, by halves. When he loves, he loves with his whole heart, infinitely.…

We may go a step farther. God’s love for us is not a sterile love, confined to heaven. It is an active love, provident, watchful, solicitous. It is a love that does not forget us for one moment, but protects us unceasingly, and keeps arranging minutely all the events of our life from the most far-reaching to the most insignificant.

I am not exaggerating. Jesus himself affirmed it: “But not a hair of your head will perish” (Lk 21:18). Some persons may consider this hyperbole. Perhaps, but at any rate it is a hyperbole that expresses the solicitude, constancy, and minute care of God’s love for us.…
Through what strange phenomenon, through what inexplicable illusion do we Christians disquiet ourselves, knowing with the certainty of faith that a loving God bears us in his arms and surrounds us with his divine tenderness?

Martinez, L. (2011). Secrets of the Spirit: Wisdom from Luis Martinez. (G. Santos, Ed.) (pp. 1–5). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.