Today we celebrate what many Christians including Franciscans believe to be the most significant day of the Christian year – the birth of a new nonviolent world. Jesus was all about nonviolence. His ways and life, encapsulated in the Gospels, breathe a better way for Christians to engage with brothers/sisters of Hinduism, of Islam, of Judaism, of Buddhism, of all the great religious persuasions pursuing peace on earth. Over a hundred years ago, Gandhi observed that every religion is rooted in nonviolence. May we also, in our Christian faith walk, begin the Christmastide celebration ushering in 2020 with the peace of Gandhi, Buddha, Muhammad, Jesus on our hearts. Namaste. 🙏
FROM MATTHEW 5:1-7, 27
And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:
2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,
3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
“Create in me a clean heart, O Lord, and renew a right spirit within me.”
“If you want peace, work for justice.”
As a precursor to thinking about world peace, it is necessary to recognize that governments and government agents cannot enforce peaceful co-existence. Governments desire power above peace, governments covet profits from its nation’s war machine and munitions industries above peace, and governments employ military might as an insurer of peace within its own borders at the expense of violent oppression elsewhere in the world. The great Roman Empire was created on this principle. The American experience also became an empire in this manner. Peace on an international level is unattainable without the intervention of a supernatural mediator.
Perhaps that is what Pope Paul VI is inferring in this quote. Wise men know that mankind is violent and warlike and that the governances created by man are equally so. The peace envisioned is not going to happen in the halls of government but rather within the temples of man. Man is a spiritual being housed in a physical body, his temple. When that spirit is tuned in to a greater universal force, the process of peacemaking can begin. It is a miracle of interior transformation which prepares each individual to journey to the destiny of enlightenment offered by his/her Creator.
The transforming process begins with a recognition of inherent ego and its continual demand to be self-satisfied. Slowly ego is replaced by sacrifice and awareness of surrounding suffering. The injustice of world systems becomes increasingly apparent as the individual reaches out to live in solidarity with all brothers and sisters, to seek justice for all people. Justice mothers the driving desire to share resources equally, to treat others compassionately, and to extend peaceful co-existence to the entire creation. Striving for universal justice becomes the life work which will usher peace into the worlds existing within the temples. No government can deter or destroy that which dwells within.