Both scripture passages for today’s Eucharist leads us to a sense of peace and joy.
Paul tells us a source of peace is the peace of humility. This comes from a life of deep gratitude. As St. Jerome tells us “It is not the living in Jerusalem, but the living well in Jerusalem” that gives us peace and joy. There is also a peace of singleness of mind that commits us to a purpose larger than one’s self. “It is the object of our attention that determines the quality of our character.” We know that the object of our character is a crucified God; and we see the world through the eyes of a Crucified God.
Paul reminds us that our peace comes from a justifiable life. We are assured ultimately our God is just, a loving just God. Our God calls us to peace that comes from being forgiving. Because this is true, God gives us the gifts of forgiveness, magnanimity, and contentment. The rabbis in the time of Jesus had a saying: “Shrouds have no pockets, so spend your life doing two things. Developing character and practicing kindness. “
Peter Berger says that “civilization is held together by a thin thread called “Conversation!” Conversation can be nurtured in an atmosphere of peace and joy. Mortimer Adler was asked by Bill Moyer “What do you tell your sons it is that makes one happy?” Adler responded: “I tell them seek the good, and do what is right!” This can happen best when there is an atmosphere of peace and joy.
We all must encounter tragedy in our lives. When tragedy is overwhelming, we experience numbness: physical, spiritual, and psychological. It is our faith that helps us encounter tragedy and allows us to move from numbing, to shock to feeling. It is our faith that allows us to overcome the suffering that is so horrendous it beats the breath out of our bodies and the life out of our souls.
It is our faith that allows us to pray, which leads to limitless power. It gives us the
Spirit that leads us to the Truth. It allows us to change our hearts and ultimately to a change our life. Ultimately, the Spirit leads us to peace that is beyond words.
Fr. Ken O’Malley, C.P., is the formation director and local superior at Holy Name Passionist Community in Houston, Texas.