Happy Sabbath! Peace be with you!
Christ – that crazy rabbi – was all about peace. Hear him preach to the masses: “Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you…” But how – one might ask – can such messages possibly be reconciled with that powerful statement worthy of being tattooed across every Irish Catholic’s chest: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
Obviously we are dealing with the same rabbi in both cases, and it would
never be enough to say that one is Angry Jesus and the other Happy Jesus, or that Our Lord merely changed his mind in regards to the whole peace thing after a crazy night of wedding feasts. (Or, if you’re one of our modern atheists, that this finally proves that the Bible is the greatest hoax ever played on mankind, and was probably written by some combination of Opus Dei and the Knights Templar.) Now if you’re a Good Catholic – that non-existent breed – this all might be rather confusing, and the best thing to do would be to ignore it. But here is my fallible, uneducated and rather worthless opinion on this matter (would this really be a blog if I didn’t force it upon you?) for all the rest of you:
|Which makes Michael angry.|
Peace is conflict. Peace is violent. Peace, like most things, is no negative; it is not merely the absence of war or the absence of hatred, but a “shining, affirmative thing”, as solid as war and as real as a violent fist. Because, and before you accuse me of paradox, recall that the peace Christ brings is not “as the world gives.” This peace is effectively a denial of any spiritual battle, a denial that St. Michael is busy decapitating demons.
This worldly peace can be roughly defined as the glazed look of those having a good day, good grades and a nice house, while the peace of God is the clear-eyed gaze of those who know that Christ has conquered the world, sin and death. And this peace is a source of conflict.
For the world is inherently unfulfilled. No amount of consumer products, sunny days, or wannabe, spiritual pay-to-pray religions will ever give the world-dweller peace. And what can infuriate the unfulfilled more than someone fully alive, than the fulfilled among them? I’ve been there, living a religion-is-not-cool-and-I-can-be-happy-and-at-peace-without-God kind of life, and the most prominent feature of this life was not laughter and meditation, but being pissed off at fulfilled, happy religious people. Has it ever struck you that the majority of atheistic websites are devoted, not to atheism, but to attacking religion? It is no strong testament to their world view that it is eternally focused on negatives, but it is a strong testament to ours that we can drive enemies to the point of constant anger by doing nothing but living our creed. When we have the peace of Christ, we have a weapon. When we are living in the knowledge that our Lord goes before us and wins our battles, we strike against the world with our very beings,
not maliciously, but inherently and necessarily. So the Lord does wish peace upon us, but He knows full well that that very peace will turn “a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.”
So off we go to mass, to receive the Holy Eucharist, to receive the true peace that annoys the world. We go, and when we come back, if we are a brave, if we are courageous, if we are unashamed of the peace we have within us then we will set the world on fire, we will declare war on the world, we bring a sword to the heart of all those with glazed eyes and feeble hands, and that sword will be called peace, peace without limits. It looks like this: