Spirituality for Today – December 2007 – Volume 12, Issue 5

Editorial – Peace

By Rev. Mark Connolly

An image of three banners with the word peace written on one of themFor centuries, especially in the Catholic Church, the one great appeal that man made to God was for peace. We have all grown up hearing the refrain, "glory to God on highest and peace to his people on earth". We have all grown up hearing the words that Christ spoke when he said, "my peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you". But ever since that night in Bethlehem when the son of God entered the world to teach love and forgiveness, those two qualities have not achieved what Christ had in mind.

"Love your neighbor", "forgive those who trespass against you", all of these expressions, all talk about the peace of Christ especially during this season. We all know that since we are so complex that peace can be a very elusive quality in the ordinary home. When you look at the tremendous increase in spousal abuse, when you consider the young people who have attempted suicide, when you consider the problem of alcohol and drugs which has increased in many families, it is very obvious that this word peace has not entered the hearts of those who are in many homes.

What we have to learn from Jesus Christ is that there is no other vehicle for peace other than through forgiveness. Christ gave us the reminder on the cross when he said, "Father forgive them for they now not what they do". That quality of personal forgiveness has to start on an individual basis. That quality of personal tolerance has to start on a personal basis. That ability to agree to disagree without being disagreeable has to be cultivated on a personal basis.

For centuries we have had all sorts of peace treaties drawn up, we have had all of these accords at Camp David concerning the Jewish problem, only to find these peace treaties and accords don't last for any great length of time. We have always hoped that peace would come through our leaders, in other words from the top. That they would create the patterns, the parameters that would give peaceful opportunities to people of different cultures. And it has not happened.

Jesus Christ in coming to earth gave us a map of life and in that map he reminded us of the importance of forgiveness. In his Lord's Prayer he says, "forgive those who trespass against us". On the Cross, he uttered his famous hymn to forgiveness, during his public ministry he told everyone to forgive those who have trespassed against you and forgive them seventy times seven.

We have tried for centuries, ever since the birth of Christ, to find this elusive quality of peace. But it will only come into our societies and into our lives when we imitate what Christ handed down to us during this public ministry. We have heard it before and we need to hear it again. If there is going to be peace throughout the world, if there is going to be peace in our own homes, if there is going to be peace in our own hearts, it will only come when we take to heart and implement the words that Christ taught us, "my peace I leave with you", Christ said, "my peace I give onto you". That will only be in our hearts when the forgiveness of Christ takes hold in our hearts.