Monday, June 9, 2008

Inner Peace

Dear brothers and sisters,

While living in this world, we are making a journey to a place that we as religious people call our Father’s house. We are people in journey, we are pilgrims, we are homo viator. In this journey one of the many things that we pursue is peace. Particularly, in this time of trouble in our countries, in our beloved Catholic Church, and in the world, we are desperately looking for peace.

Jesus comes up today in the Gospel (John 14: 27-31) with a promise to his disciples and to us who hear His words: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid” (John 14:27).

However, what is actually the peace that the world cannot give? Are there any differences between these two kinds of peace, from the world and from God?

The answer is: YES!

The world can give a peace as a situation without war or trouble. Once Julius Caesar said, “Si vis pacem, para bellum!” (If you want peace, prepare a war), so that the confronting side will be afraid of the power of its enemy and the war will be canceled. Is this a true peace? No, because instead of peace there will be continuous fear of each opponent’s side.

The just war tradition allows people to wage a war, and of course violence included, in pursuing peace. The critical question is: Can peace be pursued by violence? No way! Because violence creates violence.

Then, what is the true peace that Jesus has promised?

Let us try to understand it through this story:

During the civil war in Japan, there was a famous general caught by the enemy. The enemy would hang him before the mass the following day. He was put into jail. Evening came and the soldiers gave him very good foods as the gift of his last day, but he couldn’t eat it. He worried of his fate, because he would die soon. The night came and he couldn’t sleep, but then he tried to calm himself down. Soon after he calmed down, he remembered what his teacher had said: “Tomorrow is not real, only the present time is real.” Then a flowing of peace came to his heart, he woke up, ate up the foods, and slept very, very, very well. The following day, early in the morning hundreds Japanese troops rescued him from the jail.

Therefore, the real peace is not outside, it is inside. The true peace is inner peace. We always try to pursue external peace, that’s not too bad, but we have to know that the real peace is not a matter of external things. That’s way it is useless to take a vocation in a very expensive place, but there’s no peace in somebody’s heart. It is useless that we think that we can work well in a certain parish, with a very good neighborhood, in Florida or in Chicago, or in New York, if there is no peace in our hearts, restlessness will always haunts us. Now we can understand why a very rich and famous people such as Michael Jackson, Prince Charles, etc. seem do not enjoy their lives, and seem not happy. But we can see a very happy face of a farmer, a simple man or woman, who have not many possessions.

So dear brothers and sisters, let us pray to God that He may pour out His peace in our hearts. Let’s ask Him for this inner peace so that we can live peacefully whatever the situation around us is. Then we can say with St. Teresa of Avila, “Solo Dios basta!” God only is enough, for He is the source of our peace.

Homily delivered at Whitefriars Hall
May 6, 2006, Washington, D.C.