25 October 2017

Peace is not the absence of violence

NB. I'm a little late posting this one. . .

Feast of St Luke
Fr Philip Neri Powell, OP

My younger brother, Andy, and I loved to fight. To this day we scare our mom by retelling old battles that she knew nothing about. Bricks to the head. Butcher knife chases. Pro-wrestler moves on the gravel driveway. That either one of us managed to get past high school is a miracle. Sometimes our battles drew parental attention and were ended by a belt and an order to go outside and split some cord wood. And even though we were busy fighting hickory trees with chainsaws and mauls, our hearts and minds were planning the next fight. No, we weren't beating up on one another. . .but we were hardly at peace. Peace is not merely the absence of violence. Nor is it the absence of emotional turmoil or spiritual distress. Peace can be comforting, sure, if peace is just a species of tranquility. But it isn't. At least not the sort of peace that we can expect when we detach ourselves from the things of this world and attach ourselves to Christ.
Our Lord says to the Seventy-two: “Go on your way. . .I am sending you like lambs among wolves.” What sort of peace does a lonely lamb experience among a pack of wolves? He adds, “Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals . . .” What sort of peace do we experience going out into the world w/o cash, credit cards, shoes, or even a sack of snacks? We're to eat and drink whatever we are given. Is that vegan? Gluten-free? Low-carb? No sodium? Do you have a vegetarian option? What sort of peace reigns when all of our choices are made for us by strangers, and our only task is to heal their sick and proclaim the Kingdom of God? When we say to them, “Peace to this household,” what are we saying? 
We are saying, in fact, declaring, that Christ the King rules here. Because you and yours have received us as disciples of Christ, and b/c you and yours have shown us hospitality, we acknowledge in the name of Christ that this household is indeed ruled by Christ. And b/c he rules, you and yours are at peace. Not without some worry. Not wholly lacking some turbulence. But firmly, gratefully subject to the Eternal King, confidently guided and supported by the sacrificial love he demonstrated on the cross. As disciples, we bear Christ's peace to anyone and everyone who is willing and able to receive it. Without vicious attachments to worldly things and worldly passions, we bear Christ's peace in word and deed, demonstrating ourselves his sacrifice of love on the cross.

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