THE NOW WORD ON MASS READINGS
for Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Easter, May 5th, 2015
Liturgical texts here
ARE you at peace? Scripture tells us that our God is a God of peace. And yet St. Paul also taught that:
It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God. (Today’s first reading)
If so, it would seem that the life of the Christian is destined to be anything but peaceful. But not only is peace possible, brothers and sisters, it is essential. If you cannot find peace in the present and coming Storm, then you will be carried away by it. Panic and fear will dominate rather than trust and charity. So then, how can we find true peace when a war is raging all about? Here are three simple steps to building a House of Peace.
I. Be Faithful
The first step in maintaining true peace is to always keep the will of God, expressed foremost in His commandments—in a word, be faithful. There is a Divine order established by the Creator and unless we live in that order, we will never have peace, for…
…he is not the God of disorder but of peace. (1 Cor 14:33)
Think of how the planet Earth was placed by His hand into a special orbit and rotation around the Sun. What would happen if the earth suddenly “disobeyed” the laws by which it is governed? What if it departed every so slightly from its orbit or changed its tilt by only a couple of degrees? There would be chaos. Life on earth would be dramatically altered if not annihilated. Now there is a parable here: even when storms cover the face of the earth, even when earthquakes shake its foundations, even when floods and fires and metorites scar her surface… the planet continues to obey the laws which set it in motion, and as a result, it continues season after season to bear fruit.
So when personal storms and earthquakes and disasters shake you and the meotorites of unexpected trials strike the surface of your day, the first principle in finding true peace is always to remain faithful, to remain in the “orbit” of God’s will so that you will continue to bear fruit.
Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. (John 15:4)
But there is more to being faithful than just “doing”…
Just as a house must be built on a foundation, peace must also have a foundation, which as I explained above, is the will of God. For Our Lord taught:
…everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. (Matt 7:26)
But a foundation cannot protect you from rain, wind, and hail, no matter how good it is. You need to build walls and a roof.
The walls are faith.
Being faithful to God’s will does not make you immune to trials, sometimes very harsh trials. And unless you trust in Him, you can be tempted to think that God has forgotten and abandoned you causing you to become discouraged and lose your peace. Trust, then, is the state of hoping in God, whether rain, wind, hail or sunshine pours down upon you. It is this absolute trust, built upon the will of God, that gives one the first taste of that supernatural peace that Jesus promises in the Gospel today:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.
This trust must also extend to those times in spiritual battle when you bring rain, wind, and hail down upon yourself through personal sin. Satan wants you to believe that, if you fall, if you stumble, if you drift even slightly from “orbit”, then you are not capable of peace.
We believe, for example, that to win the spiritual battle we must vanquish all our faults, never succumb to temptation, have no more weaknesses or shortcomings. But on such a terrain, we are sure to be vanquished! —Fr. Jacques Philippe, Searching for and Maintaining Peace, p. 11-12
In fact, the first time Jesus appears to the Apostles after the Resurrection—after they had fled from Him in the garden—this is what He says:
Peace be with you. (John 21:19)
It is to sinners, first and foremost, that Jesus extends peace, He who came to reconcile us with the Father. The paradox of Divine Mercy is that it is precisely the most wretched sinner who is most entitled to it. And thus, we should never lose peace even in our failures, but rather, begin again in humility. For the walls of peace are not perfection, but trust.
The first goal of spiritual combat, that toward which our efforts must above all else be directed, is not to always obtain a victory (over our temptations, our weaknesses, etc.), rather it is to learn to maintain peace of heart under all circumstances, even in the case of defeat. It is only in this way that we can pursue the other goal, which is the elimination of our failures, our faults, our imperfections and sins. —Fr. Jacques Philippe, Searching for and Maintaining Peace, p. 12
Ah! Satan has already won the battle when the soul loses peace! For the disturbed soul inevitably disturbs those around him. Peace is not the absence of war, but the presence of God. So the one who maintains that Divine peace becomes a living well to those around him, those who likewise thirst for peace. As the response to the Psalm today says:
Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
That’s because the peaceful heart carries within him the Kingdom of God.
And this peace, this Kingdom, is transmitted by love. Keeping the will of God and putting faith in Him is the beginning, but not the end in finding peace. There must be love. Think of a slave who carries out his master’s every command, and yet, remains aloof and fearful of him in a cold and distant relationship. Likewise, a house with a good foundation and walls, but with no roof, will be a cold and unwelcoming home. Love is the roof that encloses peace, a roof that…
…bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Cor 13:7)
Love is the only roof that is impervious to the bitter
winds of hatred, the hail of misfortune, and rains of daily trials that are sure to come. If fear robs you of peace, it is love that casts out all fear. Love is what gives purpose to the foundation and holds the walls together. Love makes obedience a joy, and trust an adventure. In a word, the House of Peace will automatically become the House of Joy.
And when such a House is built, souls around you will want to dwell in its safety and comfort, in the shelter of peace.
But first, you must build it.
Acquire a peaceful spirit, and around you thousands will be saved. —St. Seraphim of Sarov
…let the peace of Christ control your hearts… (Col 3:14)