At All Costs

The Martyrdom of St. Thomas Becket
, by Michael D. O’Brien


THERE is a strange new "virtue" which has appeared in our culture. It has crept in so subtly that few realize how it has become so highly practiced, even among high ranking clergy. That is, to make peace at all costs. It comes with its own set of prohibitions and proverbs:

"Just be quiet. Don’t stir the pot."

"Mind your own business."

"Ignore it and it will go away."

"Don’t make trouble…"

Then there are the sayings specifically developed for the Christian:

"Don’t judge."

"Don’t criticize your priest/bishop (just pray for them.)"

"Be a peacemaker."

"Don’t be so negative…"

And the favorite, designed for every class and person:

"Be tolerant."



Indeed, blessed are the peacemakers. But there can be no peace where there is not justice. And there can be no justice where truth does not abide. Thus, when Jesus dwelt among us, He said something startling:

Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. For I have come to set a man ‘against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s enemies will be those of his household. (Matt 10:34-36)

How do we understand this coming from the mouth of the One whom we call the Prince of Peace? Because He also said, "I am the truth." In so many words, Jesus announced to the world that a great battle would follow in His footsteps. It is a battle for souls, and the battleground is "the truth which sets us free." The sword Jesus speaks of is the "word of God"…

…penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.(Heb 4:12)

The power of His word, of truth, reaches deep into the soul and speaks to the conscience where we discern right from wrong. And there, the battle begins or ends. There, the soul either embraces truth, or rejects it; manifests humility, or pride.

But today, few are the men and women who will unleash such a sword for fear they may be misunderstood, rejected, disliked, or become wreckers of "the peace." And the cost of this silence can be counted in souls.



The Great Commission of the Church (Matt 28:18-20) is not to bring peace to the world, but to bring Truth to the nations.

She exists in order to evangelize… —POPE PAUL VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, n. 24

But wait, you might say, didn’t the angels announce at Christ’s birth: "Glory to God in the highest, and peace to men of good will?" (Lk 2:14). Yes, they did. But what kind of peace?

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. (John 14:27)

It is not a peace of this world, manufactured through an illusory "tolerance." It is not a peace produced whereby truth and justice are sacrificed in order to make all things "equal." It is not a peace whereby creatures, in efforts to be "humane," are given more rights than man, their steward. This is false peace. Lack of conflict is not necessarily a sign of peace either. It may in fact be the fruit of control and manipulation, of a distortion of justice. All the nobel peace prizes in the world cannot produce peace without the power and truth of the Prince of Peace.



No, brothers and sisters, we are not called to bring peace into the world, our cities, our homes at all costs—we are to bring truth at all costs. The peace we bring, the peace of Christ, is the fruit of reconciliation with God and alignment with His will. It comes via the truth of the human person, the truth that we are sinners enslaved to sin. The truth that God loves us, and has brought true justice through the Cross. The truth that each of us needs to personally choose to receive the fruit of this justice—salvation—through repentance, and faith in the love and mercy of God. The truth which then springs forth, like the petals of a rose, in a multiplicity of dogmas, moral theology, Sacraments, and charity in action. We are to bring this truth to the world at all costs. How?

…with gentleness and reverence. (1 Peter 3:16)

It is time to draw your sword, Christian—high time. But know this: it may cost you your reputation, peace in your home, in your parish, and yes, perhaps cost you your life.

Those who challenge this new paganism are faced with a difficult option. Either they conform to this philosophy or they are faced with the prospect of martyrdom. —Fr. John Hardon (1914-2000), How to Be a Loyal Catholic Today? By Being Loyal to the Bishop of Rome;

The truth… at all costs. For ultimately, Truth is a person, and He is worth defending, in season and out, to the very end!


First published October 9th, 2009.




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