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  • Fr. John Jennings

Our Sacred Stories ~ Peace: God’s Dream

There is a basic human longing that we all share. We want peace. We want it for our world, we want it for our communities, for our families and we even desire an interior peace for ourselves. To live in peace with one another is a key to healthy relationships. Both around us and within us, we are often without peace. Our lives face division, conflict and animosity globally, communally and personally. It is the great challenge for our humanity and indeed for all creation

It is the great challenge to God’s dream. God’s Reign is not intended to be this way. The Reign of God is to be marked by peace and reconciliation, by mercy, love and compassion for all. We are one humanity under God’s heaven and we share a creation that is entirely a gift of God’s love. This Reign of God is central to Jesus’s mission and message. As disciples of Jesus our call is to hold this message and share it as our mission as well.

The message and mission are not always held firmly in our hearts and actions. It is what we want and hope, but our actions reveal our inabilities and lack of will. The Gospel writer, Matthew relates a story, a parable of Jesus. It tells of a man who had two sons. One he asked to go work in the vineyard. This son said he would go, but did not. A second son, when told to go, said he would not, but he had a change of heart and in fact did go (Matt 21:28-32). This is a story of discipleship and commitment, of willingness to accept the call and carry it into action.

The story expresses the reality of our lives as disciples. Often, we commit, but do not carry it further. We need to know that even if we reject the call or fail in the commitment, we can have a change of heart. God’s Reign is never beyond our reach, for God is a God of love, compassion and mercy. God never gives up on us, nor should we. Hope is eternal, in God’s Reign.

As disciples of Jesus, we are called to live in peace with one another, sharing peace with our world. It begins with our own relationships. The earliest Christian communities were recognized by some for how they lived with one another. Almost 2000 years ago, a Christian writer, Tertulian (c.160-220), noted the way non-Christians around his community regarded the Christians. As he wrote, they said: “See . . . how they love one another and how they are ready to die for each other.” It is how we live that speaks to our world.

St Paul, in his letter to the Christian community in Philippi, sought to encourage this commitment to loving relationships. In his letter, he included what is thought to have been a very early Christian hymn sung at their gatherings (Phil. 2:6-11). He introduced the hymn with an admonition to all of us as disciples. Perhaps it expresses who we disciples are all called to be.

Brothers and sisters: If there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, then make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus (Phil 2:1-5). Can I/we really live this mission, in every place, with everyone, at all times?

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