Thursday, June 15, 2006

Chrysologus on Peace

I recently came across a homily attributed to St Peter Chrysologus (which means “golden word”), which contains some golden words on peace. It can be applied on many levels. The psalmist enjoins us to “seek peace and pursue it,” and this is one of the important tasks in our lives. We must begin with cultivating a spirit of peace in our own souls, and then we will be able to reconcile with family, friends, co-workers, etc, and little by little peace will spread to the wider world. But if peace is to be made in the world, it must begin with ourselves, for as the saying goes, “No one can give what he does not have.” Let us then seek peace, pray for it, and do all in our power to make it happen. I now step aside and let the Saint speak:

“My dear brethren, the evangelist tells us: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.’ The Christian virtues come to fruition in the man who preserves the simplicity of Christian peace. No one can be called a child of God without first deserving the name of peacemaker.

“It is peace, my dear brethren, which frees a man from slavery and ennobles him. In God’s eyes his condition as well as his character is changed, for peace makes a son of a servant, and a free man of a slave. Peace in the community is God’s will; it is the sweetness of Christ and the perfection of sanctity. Peace is the rule of justice, the mistress of learning, the guardian of morals; its restraining influence is everywhere to be commended. It is the goal of our prayers, an easy and effective way of making atonement, the complete fulfillment of all our longings. Peace is the mother of love, the bond of friendship, the clearest proof of that innocence which craves satisfaction of God, which seeks fulfillment and has its longing satisfied. Peace must be preserved by precepts which have binding force, for the Lord Jesus Christ has said: ‘I leave you peace, my peace I give you,’ that is to say: I parted from you in peace and I will find you in peace; he wanted to leave us with something which he hoped to find in every man’s heart on his return.

“God has commanded us to preserve his gift; there is no ambiguity in what he said: I will find what I have given. It is the very nature of God to plant a well-rooted peace; it is the devil who wishes to uproot it completely. Just as brotherly love comes from God, so hatred comes from the devil. Accordingly we must condemn hatred, for it is written: ‘He who hates his brother is a murderer.’

“So you see, dear brethren, why we must love peace and cherish harmony, for they are the very conditions which produce charity and sustain it. You know that the apostle tells us: ‘Charity comes from God.’ A man is godless without charity.

“Let us therefore keep the commandments which make for life. The community should be closely knit in peace. Let us be motivated by mutual love and bind ourselves in bonds of saving charity, which covers a multitude of sins. We should embrace love with every desire of our hearts, for it can have as many graces as rewards. We should guard peace before all the virtues, for God is always present in peace…”