‘My Peace I Give to You’

We are called to rid our hearts of hate and anger

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Easter is the most glorious and joyful feast of the Church. The Resurrected Christ promises that he will make all things new. Death has been conquered. As St. Paul tells us, the resurrection of Jesus is the beginning of the new creation. A time will come, when Jesus returns, when death and suffering will be no more. Peace will reign over the new heaven and the new earth. Creation will return to its original right order.

But at this point in human history, it appears we are far from that promise. As I write this, it is not quite a month since Hamas slaughtered innocent men, women and children. A war has begun, and more innocents will die. Anti-Semitism is on the rise. Russia and Ukraine are still at war. China and Iran are getting aggressive. The drums of war are getting louder.

Christians are called to peace. It seems an impossible task. The world is more divided than ever. There is much anger and too much hate in our country and most of the West. In Scripture, peace, shalom, means to be complete or whole. St. Augustine said that peace is the “tranquility of order.”

Pope John XXIII, in his encyclical on peace, wrote: “The world will never be the dwelling place of peace, till peace has found a home in the heart of each and every human person, till every man preserves in himself the order ordained by God to be preserved” (Pacem in Terris, No. 165).

In other words, each of us has to cultivate peace in our hearts, our families and our friends. Certainly, we should pray and fast for peace in the world. But we are called by God to rid our hearts of hate and anger toward other people. We cannot hope for world peace if we do not have inner peace, even amid suffering and anxiety. To do this, we must have absolute trust in God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Lent is a time to start. It begins with the call of John the Baptist to repent. That is the only way to grow in holiness. When we persevere in holiness, we receive the fruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. When we live in the Spirit and receive his fruits, we are right with God and our neighbor.

Pope Benedict XVI, in his works on creation, stressed that every human being is created by God out of love. Every human being is made in the image of God. We are all one humanity formed from God’s one earth, he wrote in “In the Beginning …” (Eerdmans, $15.99). He also taught in a homily on April 30, 2012, that peace and justice are the “fruits” of this right order that is “written on the human heart.” Those fruits are “accessible to all people of good will,” no matter their religion.

This calls for each and every one of us to see the face of Christ in every human being. Peace begins by each of us willing the good for the other. This can be a challenge. People are often difficult.

How to start? This Lent, I will call upon the Holy Spirit to help me to be more like Christ the Prince of Peace. Bishop Robert Barron, in a YouTube video, remarked that the one prayer that is always answered is, “Come, Holy Spirit, come.”

Peace can only be achieved in our own hearts and in the world through God’s grace. In his Last Supper discourse, Jesus said: “The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name — he will teach you everything and remind you of all that [I] told you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid” (Jn 14:26-27).

SUSAN KEHOE is co-director of RCIA at Christ the King Parish in Des Moines, Iowa, along with her husband, Deacon Larry Kehoe. She writes at

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