Tuesday, May 24, 2005


The Meaning of True Peace

In recent history, the issue of world peace is one that has been considered to be of paramount importance among those in the international community. There have been more peace treaties
signed in the thirty years than in the hundred or so years prior.

Given this fact, I believe it is important that we have a sound fundamental understanding of what peace on earth really is. In his 1963 encyclical letter "Pacem in Terris" addressing this very issue Pope John XXIII gave what I think is the most succinct definition of peace one could
give. He says:

“ Peace on earth, which all men of every era have most eagerly yearned for, can be firmly established only if the order laid down by God be dutifully observed.”

This statement points out that real peace has more to do with objective truth than it does a superficial sense of emotional tranquility.

In Matt. 10:34-36, Jesus expresses this in paradoxical language when he says

"Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's foes will be those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for
my sake will find it. “

Now, of course, this stands in stark contrast to the “ Can’t we all just get along? “ mentality that characterizes most popular ideas concerning peace. Such a mentality, because doesn’t have the stomach to face conflict and usually has little or no regard for right order, sacrifices true peace for a seemingly painless caricature of it.

Now, it must be understood that the pursuit of peace requires patience, the respect of others, and the need to take the implications of individual situations into account. But peace does not fear conflict, nor does it shrink in the face tyranny. To the contrary, it engages this conflict and conquers tyranny.

The relevance of this felt with tremendous force today, particularly in the wake of 9/11 and the subsequent terrorist threat. The gravity of these attacks on our way of life, our freedom, our peace demand a full engagement of what the President called “the war between freedom and fear”. In his address to the joint

session of Congress, shortly after 9/11, President Bush said : “Freedom
and fear, justice and cruelty, have always been at war, and we know
that God is not neutral between them.”

And that is our consolation and our peace.


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