Thoughts To Live By…

Archive for the ‘Peace’ Category

‘Peace’ is my farewell to you, my peace is my gift to you.” – John 14:27

What we receive from someone’s last will and testament can be a very personal and special expression of his or her love and concern for us. In His will, the Lord left His disciples peace. The traditional Hebrew shalom has a wide range of meaning. It is used as an ordinary salutation. In Scriptures however, it often indicates the well-being of men and women who live in harmony with nature, with themselves, with each other, and with God. It means not only blessing but also rest, glory, riches, salvation, and life. Simply stated, peace, is the fullness of happiness (Lv. 26:6).

By “peace,” Jesus means “shalom,” harmony, a taste of paradise, a foretaste of heaven. This is obviously not the peace that the world gives (Jn 14:27). It is a peace beyond human understanding (Phil 4:7). This shalom-peace is stronger than death and will last forever. It can be produced only by the Holy Spirit (see Gal 5:22). ).  As the gift of Jesus shalom (Greek eirene) stands for salvation which brings the bounty of messianic blessings.

God loves all men and women on earth and gives them the hope of a new era, an era of peace. His love, fully revealed in the Incarnate Son, is the foundation of universal peace. Peace is possible. It only needs to be implored from God as His gift, but it also needs to be built day by day with His help, through works of justice and love.

“All things desire for peace,” St. Augustine tells us. John XXIII expresses a similar universal desire in the first paragraph of his encyclical Pacem in Terris (1963): “All men of every age have most eagerly yearned for peace on earth.” And yet, as look at our world and see situations of un-peace: wars, violence, division, injustice, oppression and exploitation, deteriorating poverty and un-love. “We desire peace and therefore St. Thomas adds, “we desire to obtain what we desire” (Summa Theologiae, II-II, 29, 2). Hence, all men and women of good will have to pursue and work for peace of all. For “peace is either for all or for none” (SRS 26).

As a community of disciples of Jesus Christ, we have the vocation and mission to be sign and instrument of peace in the world and for the world. For the Church, to carry out her evangelizing mission means to work for peace. “For the Catholic faithful, the commitment to build peace and justice is not secondary but essential. It is to be undertaken in openness towards their brothers and sisters of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, towards the followers of other religions, and towards all men of good will” (Pope John Paul II, Message for World Day of Peace, issued December 8, 1999).

How can we become peacemaker or builder or bridges of peace?

  • Be at peace with oneself and with God. The heart of peace is the peace of the heart (Pope John Paul II). The words of St. Seraphim is worth recalling to explain this truth: “Acquire inner peace and thousands around you will find liberation.”
  • Be at peace with individuals and groups near or close to you both in hearts, space, and time. Like charity, peace begins at home. It begins with our loved ones, relatives, friends and neighbors. Neighborliness leads to peace. Hence, we are challenged by the Church: “Today there is an inescapable duty to make ourselves the neighbor of  every man, no matter who he is, and if we meet him, to come to his aid  in a positive way, whether he is an aged person abandoned by all, a  foreign worker despised without reason, a refugee, an illegitimate  child wrongly suffering for a sin he did not commit, or a starving human being who awakens our conscience by calling to mind the words of  Christ: ‘As you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you  did it to Me.'” (“Gaudium Et Spes,” 27).
  • Be at peace to everyone even to individuals and groups who do evil against you and differ from you in many ways. As St. Paul advises: “Do all you can to live at peace with everyone” (Rom 12:18).  “Love your enemies and pray for your persecutors. This will prove that we are sons and daughters of our heavenly Father” (Mt 5:44-45), do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who persecute you, love your enemies, rejoice with those who are joyful, weep with those who weep, live in peace with one another and conquer evil with good (see Rm 12:14-16, 21). Gandhi’s reminder is still relevant and urgent today: “A tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye makes the world toothless and blind.” Hence, let us promote peace for all nonviolently and peacefully.
  • Be at peace with the whole creation. Remember ultimate peace is either for the whole creation or none at all.  If we are truly at peace with ourselves, with God, with our neighbor then we should be at peace also with the created world and everything that lives in it. The whole creation will only enjoy ultimate peace when we are at peace with God, the Father and Creator of all. “If man is not at peace with God, neither the earth is at peace” (Pope John Paul II, Message, World Youth Day of Peace 1990).
  • Share to the poor, the needy and the suffering. Poverty and misery breed divisive conflicts. In fact, it is foolish to preach peace to an empty stomach. President Woodrow Wilson once said,”No one can love his neighbor on an empty stomach.” His point is an important one: We are made up soul and body.To address the soul without addressing the body is to ignore  the reality of our human makeup.  The insight of John Locke on this matter is of great importance: “A sound mind in a sound body, is a short, but full description of a happy [peaceful] state in this World . . .”
  • Pray for peace. Peace is a gift of God, hence, Christians in particular should pray for peace and for the attainment of the essential elements of peace – justice, love, freedom and truth. As Pope John Paul II writes:

To pray for peace is to pray for justice, for a right ordering of relations within and among nations and peoples. It is to pray for freedom, especially for the religious freedom that is basic human and civil right of every individual. To pray for peace is to seek God’s forgiveness, and to implore the courage to forgive those who trespassed against us (Message, World Day of Peace 2002, no. 14).

The Lord died to give us peace. Receive this gift of peace, pray and pursue it . Help build, bridge and spread peace everywhere. “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall see God” (Mt 5:9).

Our God is merciful and tender.
He will guide our steps
into the path of peace.

Luke 1:78-79

On Christmas eve, during the
Franco-Prussian War in 1870,
French soldiers and German
soldiers faced each other in
trenches, a short distance apart.

Suddenly, a French soldier stood
on top of the mound of dirt and
began singing “O Holy Night.”
Not a shot was fired.

When the French soldier ended,
a German soldier did the same,
singing “From Heaven to Earth
Come.” Not a soldier present that
Christmas ever forgot the event.

What lesson might that event
hold me? For our world?

Someday people will want peace
so badly that governments had
better get out of their way and let
them have it.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Author: Mark Link SJ

John XXIII in the first paragraph of his encyclical Pacem in Terris (1963) wrote: “All men of every age have most eagerly yearned for peace on earth.” And yet, as we look at our world today we see situations of un-peace: wars, violence, division, injustice, oppression and exploitation, deteriorating poverty and un-love.

The list at the Global Peace Index shows the GPI rankings for the 140 countries analysed in 2008 and the 121 countries analysed in 2007, as well as year-on-year comparison. Countries most at peace are ranked first. A lower score indicates a more peaceful country. You can click on a country to see the detail of its peace indicators and drivers.

Below are the 15 most violent countries listed in descending order to the most violent, which is Iraq.

  1. Myanmar
  2. Pakistan
  3. Democratic Republic of the Congo
  4. Nigeria
  5. Colombia
  6. Russia
  7. Lebanon
  8. North Korea
  9. Central African Republic
  10. Chad
  11. Israel
  12. Afghanistan
  13. Sudan
  14. Somalia
  15. Iraq

“We desire peace and therefore, St. Thomas adds, “we desire to obtain what we desire” (Summa Theologiae, II-II, 29, 2). Hence, all men and women of good will have to pursue and work for peace of all. For “peace is either for all or for none” (John Paull II, SRS 26).

“Do all you can to live at peace with everyone” (Rom 12:18).  “Love your enemies and pray for your persecutors. This will prove that we are sons and daughters of our heavenly Father” (Mt 5:44-45), do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who persecute you, love your enemies, rejoice with those who are joyful, weep with those who weep, live in peace with one another and conquer evil with good (see Rm 12:14-16, 21). Gandhi’s reminder is still relevant and urgent today: “A tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye makes the world toothless and blind.” Let us promote peace for all nonviolently and peacefully.

Prayer For Peace

Eternal God, in whose perfect kingdom no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the strength of love: So mightily spread abroad your Spirit, that all peoples may be gathered under the banner of the Prince of Peace, as children of one Father; to whom be dominion and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

[Book of Common Prayer, p. 815]

1. We commit ourselves to proclaiming our firm conviction that violence and terrorism are incompatible with the authentic spirit of religion, and, as we condemn every recourse to violence and war in the name of God or of religion, we commit ourselves to doing everything possible to eliminate the root causes of terrorism.

2. We commit ourselves to educating people to mutual respect and esteem, in order to help bring about a peaceful and fraternal coexistence between people of different ethnic groups, cultures and religions.

3. We commit ourselves to fostering the culture of dialogue, so that there will be an increase of understanding and mutual trust between individuals and among peoples, for these are the premise of authentic peace.

4. We commit ourselves to defending the right of everyone to live a decent life in accordance with their own cultural identity, and to form freely a family of his own.

5. We commit ourselves to frank and patient dialogue, refusing to consider our differences as an insurmountable barrier, but recognizing instead that to encounter the diversity of others can become an opportunity for greater reciprocal understanding.

6. We commit ourselves to forgiving one another for past and present errors and prejudices, and to supporting one another in a common effort both to overcome selfishness and arrogance, hatred and violence, and to learn from the past that peace without justice is no true peace.

7. We commit ourselves to taking the side of the poor and the helpless, to speaking out for those who have no voice and to working effectively to change these situations, out of the convinction that no one can be happy alone.

8. We commit ourselves to taking up the cry of those who refuse to be resigned to violence and evil, and we are desire to make every effort possible to offer the men and women of our time real hope for justice and peace.

9. We commit ourselves to encouraging all efforts to promote friendship between peoples, for we are convinced that, in the absence of solidarity and understanding between peoples, technological progress exposes the world to a growing risk of destruction and death.

10. We commit ourselves to urging leaders of nations to make every effort to create and consolidate, on the national and international levels, a world of solidarity and peace based on justice.

Source:  A Day of Prayer for Peace in the world that took place in Assisi.

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More than 10,000 Buddhist monks gather near Lopburi in Thailand to pray for peace.


“May He banish from the hearts of all men and women whatever might endanger peace.

May He transform them into witnesses of truth, justice and love.

May He enkindle the rulers of peoples so that in addition to their solicitude for the proper welfare of their citizens, they may guarantee and defend the great gift of peace.

May He enkindle the wills of all so that they may overcome the barriers that divide, cherish the bonds of mutual charity, understand others, and pardon those who have done them wrong.

May all peoples of the earth become as brothers and sisters, and may the most longed-for peace blossom forth and reign always among men and women.”

Source: Pacem in Terris, Pope John XXIII, 4/11/63


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