Every once in a while — a little more often than that lately perhaps — I get into conversations with people about peace. Pax Christi, you know. It can seem a foreign thing, with all our noise and anxieties, all our concerns and responsibilities, so many burdens weighing on us. But when we know we are walking with Christ, when we know we have a Savior, when we know He never leaves us alone, when we remember that He bore all the pain and indignity and injustice of human life, we can rest in the hope of the Kingdom to come. We can keep walking with Him, letting us raise us up, and draw us deeper into the glorious mystery of the Trinity. Peace sometimes comes as little windows into that bliss.
Today’s first reading is instructional here. Maybe, if we’re not reading Hebrews in context as we are trying to let God sanctify the day with His words, it might be best to begin at the end and then circle back to the beginning.
“Strive for peace with everyone, and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”
Sorta immediately ropes us in. We want to see the Lord! And so how do we strive for peace? Does God know what’s going on this week? Any week? Does He hear my kids? Has He seen America lately? Well, of course.
And so to the top:
Brothers and sisters:
In your struggle against sin
you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.
You have also forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as children:
My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord
or lose heart when reproved by him;
for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines;
he scourges every son he acknowledges.
Endure your trials as “discipline”;
God treats you as his sons.
For what Ason” is there whom his father does not discipline?
At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain,
yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness
to those who are trained by it.
So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees.
Make straight paths for your feet,
that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed.
Healing, please, Divine Healer.
In my interview with George Weigel marking the release of his new, monumentally important book, Evangelical Catholicism, dripping in Sacramental and Gospel zeal, we talk about divine mercy:
LOPEZ: Why does the modern world need “divine mercy” so much?
WEIGEL: Because of its guilt, often unconscious, but there nonetheless. The 20th century was the bloodiest in human history, by orders of magnitude. Add the new slaughter of the innocents in abortion to the slaughters of the World Wars, the death camps, the Gulag, and all the rest of the politically induced horrors, and you have a world awash in guilt over the cruelty and inhumanity it has visited upon itself. To whom can the sin that produced that guilt be confessed? By whom can it be expiated? By what authority can it be forgiven? The answers to those three questions cannot be Dr. Freud, Amnesty International, or the United Nations. The answer, I believe and the Church proclaims, is the God of the Bible, who comes into the world and into history — first in the people of Israel, and then in his Son — to offer humanity the embrace of the divine love, which alone can heal the brokenness of our lives, our societies, and our cultures.
We also talk about the Wedding Feast — where we will see that beloved Holy Face; George reflects: “belief in the wedding feast of the lamb lets us relax a bit. God has already won: That’s the message of Easter. The story is going to end the way God intended from the beginning. If you really believe that, you’re not insouciant about daily life or public life. But you can approach daily life and public life without clenched fists and gritted teeth.”
And so relaxing a bit, without the clenched fists and gritted teeth, we return to Hebrews:
Strive for peace with everyone,
and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
See to it that no one be deprived of the grace of God,
that no bitter root spring up and cause trouble,
through which many may become defiled.
May no one we meet today be deprived. May we reflect the love of God in our love for them. Everyone!