Peace by Peace
Pope Francis in Brazil during World Youth Day 2013[Wikipedia]
‘I think also of the living conditions of many migrants who, in their dramatic odyssey, experience hunger, are deprived of freedom, robbed of their possessions, or undergo physical and sexual abuse. In a particular way, I think of those among them who, upon arriving at their destination after a gruelling journey marked by fear and insecurity, are detained in at times inhumane conditions. I think of those among them, who for different social, political and economic reasons, are forced to live clandestinely. My thoughts also turn to those who, in order to remain within the law, agree to disgraceful living and working conditions, especially in those cases where the laws of a nation create or permit a structural dependency of migrant workers on their employers, as, for example, when the legality of their residency is made dependent on their labour contract. Yes, I am thinking of “slave labour”.’
- Pope Francis, Message for World Day of Peace, 1 January 2015.
‘If you want to make peace, you don't talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.’
-Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Pope Benedict XVI, 2007 [Wikipedia]
‘Love of God and love of neighbour are thus inseparable, they form a single commandment. But both live from the love of God who has loved us first. No longer is it a question, then, of a “commandment” imposed from without and calling for the impossible, but rather of a freely-bestowed experience of love from within, a love which by its very nature must then be shared with others. Love grows through love. Love is “divine” because it comes from God and unites us to God . . .’
And the more we love each other, the more we should give of ourselves to one another until it hurts. We cannot say, ‘I love God, but I don’t love my neighbor’. St John tells us that he who says he loves God but not his neighbor, is a liar. How can you love God who you do not see, if you don’t love the neighbour who you do see- the neighbour you know and live with every day?
Not easily shall one reach this height; it is no child’s play, nor the work of a day to turn with a decisive gesture from the allurements of life. It costs blood to stand the strain and overcome the repugnance of nature. When we bend our minds to this prayer and say it earnestly, we seem to hate ourselves and in the eyes of worldly men to act foolishly and give an opening for the charge of folly. ‘Unto the Gentiles folly’, utter folly to neglect the passing joy, to allow the flower of the time to pass by us. Yet looking on Christ we shall willingly accept such opprobrium. So sure are we of the goodness of the heart of God that we can wish for nothing better nor plan for anything more secure than what his Divine Heart wills, for never is a man so utterly right, so sure of blessings, as when he says this prayer – ‘Our father . . .thy will be done . . .’
-Pathways to God, Fr John Henaghan, MSSC
Forgive us as we forgive! We ask for the same treatment of ourselves that we are prepared to give our fellow man; and in this manner we limit even God’s mercy and pity by the hardness and cruelty of own hearts. It is no mere cold external forgiveness but one from our heart that God insists on towards our neighbor. God’s mercy, as it were, becomes dependent on our own choice and the character of our judgment hangs upon our treatment of others. Thus it may be a blessing or a curse that we ask for in this prayer. How shameless we should be to ask God to forgive our sins if our heart is merciless towards our neighbor.
We cannot go beyond our Lord’s own words: ‘When you shall stand to pray, forgive if you have anything against any man, that your Father also Who is in Heaven may forgive you your sins’ We have no greater guarantee of being the children of God than this readiness to forgive others. This is the test that goes down to the very foundations of our spiritual life. It is the one great lesson that our Lord taught and sealed with His Blood. More than prayers or penances or fasting or great labors to show our love for God is the heart that pardons others. Generosity in this matter will open the flood-gates of God’s charity. If we want to become like Christ we must pardon, like Him, without limits or reserve. He has placed no bounds to His mercy. Unto ‘seventy times seven’. He is ready to forgive when we turn towards Him. We have only to remember how He forgives to realize the obligation that rests on us.
-Pathways to God, Fr John Henaghan
‘To say that you kill in the name of God is blasphemy’
‘The Lord created us in His image and likeness, and we are the image of the Lord, and He does good and all of us have this commandment at heart: do good and do not do evil. All of us. “But, Father, this is not Catholic! He cannot do good.” Yes, he can. He must. Not can: must! Because he has this commandment within him. Instead, this “closing off” that imagines that those outside, everyone, cannot do good is a wall that leads to war and also to what some people throughout history have conceived of: killing in the name of God. That we can kill in the name of God. And that, simply, is blasphemy. To say that you can kill in the name of God is blasphemy. (Pope Francis, homily, 22 May 2013.)
The Command to Sacrifice Isaac (Genesis 22:1-19, New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition)
After these things God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and set out and went to the place in the distance that God had shown him. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place far away. Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the boy and I will go over there; we will worship, and then we will come back to you.” Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. Isaac said to his father Abraham, “Father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together.
The Veil of Veronica, El Greco, 1580-82 (Web Gallery of Art)
For the Lord is righteous; he loves justice. The upright will see his face.
~ Psalm11:7 (Christian Community Bible) ~
The poverty that Jesus means – that the prophets mean – presupposes above all inner freedom from the greed for possession and the mania for power. This is a greater reality than merely a different distribution of possessions, which would still be in the material domain and thereby make hearts even harder. It is first and foremost a matter of purification of heart, through which one recognizes possession as responsibility, as a duty towards others, placing oneself under God's gaze and letting oneself be guided by Christ, who from being rich became poor for our sake (cf. 2 Cor 8: 9). Inner freedom is the prerequisite for overcoming the corruption and greed that devastate the world today. This freedom can only be found if God becomes our richness; it can only be found in the patience of daily sacrifices, in which, as it were, true freedom develops. It is the King who points out to us the way to this goal: Jesus, whom we acclaim on Palm Sunday, whom we ask to take us with him on his way.
~Pope Benedict XVI, Homily on Palm Sunday, 9 April 2006, St Peter’s Square, Vatican City, 21st World Youth Day.
From a letter Sister Thérèse carried on her heart on the day of her profession, 8 September 1890:
Basilica of St Thérèse in Lisieux
~ St Thérèse of Lisieux, Story of a Soul (translated by John Clarke OCD, p275) ~
The First Movement of the Dance with God
Let me be your dance master for a while! The first movement is forgiveness. It’s a very difficult movement. But, then, all beginnings are difficult, and there is so much forgiving to do. We have to forgive our parents for not being able to give us unconditional love, our brothers and sisters for not giving us the support we dreamt about, our friends for not being there for us when we expected them. We have to forgive our church and civil leaders for their ambitions and manipulations. Beyond all that, we have to forgive all those who torture, kill, rape, destroy – who make this world such a dark place. And we, ourselves, also have to beg forgiveness. The older we become, the more clearly we see that we, too, have wounded others deeply, and are part of a society of violence and destruction. It is very difficult to forgive and to ask for forgiveness. But, without this, we remain fettered to our past – unable to dance... Forgiveness enables us to take the first step of the dance.
~ Henri J. M. Nouwen, The only necessary thing: living a prayerful life, compiled and edited by Wendy Wilson Greer ~
Fr Henri J.M. Nouwen (1932 – 1996) ending a talk on The Life of the Beloved.