Father Jim Valk's picture

Father Jim Valk

May 3, 2013

A man was muddling through his life- confused, lost, in debt. He heard about an old Brother, living in the desert, who had found a huge diamond. Our man thought that if he had that diamond all his problems would be over. He travelled far into the dawn and came at last to the old man. I want that diamond; he told the Brother- it will solve all my problems and worries. The old Brother rummaged around in his little storeroom, came up with the diamond (baseball size) and offered it to the man. Away went the man, hopeful, happy. The next week he returned to the old man and gave back the diamond. Said, the old man- why are you giving the diamond back? Did it not solve your worries? No, replied the man, take it back. I would rather have the peace that allowed you to give that diamond away.

Does that story ring any bells for us? We all want peace. Peace from problems, from conflict, from pain and disappointment. But so often our world, the media, other people offer ‘solutions’ that take away our peace, our hope. We yearn for a peace that fills our heart. And the choice is ours. In the concentration camp a man who was beaten often, left without food and support, told me that he couldn't change his physical condition. What they couldn't take away from him was his choice of what attitude to have in face of the pains. Does this resonate with your experience? Did Jesus not give us the example of how to find peace in the midst of conflict? What are the diamonds we need to give up, so that peace can fill our lives, our hearts?

T.S. Eliot, the poet, wrote that it seemed strange that the angels in Bethlehem announced peace in a world that lacked peace. Jesus frequently, in the midst of violence and war, gave peace as his gift to his people and to us But Jesus knows our reality, our needs and our hopes. Edith Bunker, in ALL IN THE FAMILY, was asked how she could put up with someone like Archie for so long. Her answer and Jesus'answer have a lot of similarity. Edith simply said she finds something new to love in him each day. Is this not a sign of God's hope in us?. God encourages us. He calls us to be his peacemakers and in giving peace, we find our peace.

In the Old Testament “PEACE” meant a harmony with God- we are in his hands. To follow God's call to love, as God loves us, is to find our peace in mind and heart. Jesus says, I give you peace- but not as the world gives. Christ is our peace. As Jesus came to his Apostles- and us- after the Resurrection he came through the fears and loss to be with them. Are we behind our locked doors or does our faith in the Risen Christ bring us his peace.? A little girl wondered aloud – if God is so big and he lives in us, why doesn't he shine through! Where do we find his peace? Where does peace shine through us today?

Peace in God's PRESENCE WITH US. His peace is not a passivity- a do-nothing attitude. Rather it is being aware of where God is found each day in our lives. Where have you experienced God today? Will you tomorrow? George Burns, the comic, was asked how he was able to live so long. His answer- I eat only the stuff with preservatives. God's love preserves, nourishes us so we can nourish peace in others.

Peace is God's FORGIVENESS. God's love is unconditional. No matter what we have done or failed to do, his love is with us. Peace comes in forgiveness when we build bridges between us and others. What do we need to let go of, to forgive, to be reconciled. Peace comes when we bear the burdens of others. This peace allows us, strengthens us to let go. Peace comes!

Peace is to HEAR God's word. Love one another as I do love you. My mother would often “bug” me to do something or other. Finally I would tell her that I heard her- her answer was simply- you hear but you don't listen. In other words I wasn't doing anything about responding to her words. The writer Emmerson was quoted as saying: what lies ahead of us; what lives before us, is a tiny thing compared to what lives within us. Jesus tells us, do not be afraid- I give you my peace. Who needs to “feel” God's peace today? Where do I bring peace? In a world, often filled with troubles and hurts and pain, we have that faith of Jesus who, through the Spirit, is there to be with us, to hear his call. Blessed are the peacemakers!

A PRAYER- I pray that the presence of Christ will make your spirit spin, your bones to quake, your blood run thin, your flesh to melt inside your skin, your very pulse create a din- aware that His peace is not UP but IN.

Be peaceful. He is with us.