For today’s reflection I have chosen the theme PEACE because of the significance of tomorrow’s date: September 11 – Patriot’s Day. I, probably like you, can remember exactly where I was when I heard the news of the attacks of 2001.
We find the theme of PEACE in our first reading from Exodus when Moses implores God to cool his wrath … and so, says the writer: “The Lord relented in the punishment he had threatened to inflict on the people.” We might add: “And, so Moses and the people slept in peace for the first night in a long time.”
In the second reading, Paul tells Timothy that Jesus came to save sinners and “for that reason I was mercifully treated.” We may add: “And, that night Paul slept peacefully, secure in God’s love for him.”
But what are we called to do when peace is fractured? The burden of reconciliation falls on the shoulders of each and all involved. Before healing can begin each person on both sides of the splintering – even if it is only a hairline fracture – must assume ownership for the breakdown in the relationship. This acknowledgement must be done without an attempt at justification for the blunder. The REASON for a disruption may explain what or how it happened. But rarely is a reason an EXCUSE for the gap in peace. Nor will it prevent the breach from growing wider unless each one picks up her piece to fit back into the puzzle of PEACE.
Several years ago, the American Benedictine Prioresses adopted a statement that, with slight adaptation, speaks to all of us. “All parties must assume responsibility for calling one another to ethical, moral and spiritual awakening that will end violence in all its forms so that peace will again be part of home, country and world.”
In our former monastery each time we entered or exited the chapel we were blessed with a mosaic of Benedict’s by-word: PEACE. It was a reminder that we want to be a peaceful community. But PEACE must be more that a decision, it must be a commitment. We must do all that it takes to offer each other an environment where PEACE can flourish individually and as a group.
It takes many small tiles placed “just so”, and the cracks filled with an adherent, to make a beautiful mosaic – a symbol reminding us that we are a flawed people. We have weaknesses, limitations, distractions that burden us and can rise up to put us on the defensive making us resentful, irritable, feeling picked on and sitting on the “pity pot”. We have to hold strong to the belief in the words of Benedict when he says that seeking peace is the way to heaven. And, he doesn’t mean just in the heaven of afterlife. We strive, too, to have a little bit of heaven here on earth.
In the Prologue to The Rule, we find Benedict’s tip for maintaining PEACE in community (family and society). “If you wish to have true and eternal life, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit; turn from evil and do good; seek PEACE and pursue it.” Another translation says, “Seek peace and go after it.” That conjures up quite an image: dashing out of the chapel, down the hallway, into the dining room hoping to catch the coattails of PEACE. We go climbing God’s holy mountain pursuing PEACE – never abandoning charity nor giving a false peace. We peacefully perform whatever duties are entrusted to us and ensure that we have made peace before sundown.
Call to mind those beautifully colored tiles in the mosaic above the splashing holy water. Ponder what a powerful impact PEACE can have on our lives. Let us renew our commitment to make PEACE more than a concept we talk about; more than a gesture we exchange at Mass, more than a sign on a banner at a rally. Let us make a daily pledge to nurture peace, be people of peace; to be a peaceful people.
~by Sister Roberta Bailey, OSB