Peace is the Way
January 1, 2018
Sr. Phyllis Jaszkowiak
Today we celebrate Mary as Mother of God, and the World Day of Peace. Peace is that inner quality, that force, that resists evil in such a way that good comes about and not further evil. The old adage says, “Peace is not the end, peace is the way.” Mary is peaceful because she was in touch with God in her everyday life. “Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”
She did not know what really was ahead for her, so she just went about being a mother and waiting for the “fullness of time,” as St. Paul says.
To ponder, reflect on, we let things seep into our hearts, open ourselves to what this means, what is asked of us, how to respond. Pondering or reflecting here does not mean a head action, although our brains can be active as well . It is a heart thing, letting God into our lives, letting God speak to us in whatever way God comes.
When we open ourselves to God and let God speak, it is not ours, it is God’s. If it is ours then pride, ego, arrogance come through. If it is God’s then humility, acceptance, love, forgiveness, peace come through. Then one can be peaceful even in the midst of evil, chaos, war. Mary at the Cross did not cringe, wail or attack. She knew she was helpless to stop the Crucifixion. Because she knew God was with her, she could stand with her Son, take on the hurt, the evil, transform it in herself and give out courage, strength, love, peace and forgiveness as did her Son.
Ronald Rolheiser in his book, Sacred Fire, tells a story about how transforming energy and not giving it back in kind can take sin out of community. “A civil rights worker who endured racial hatred and violence while working for justice describes what happened to him. “Isn’t that dangerous work you are doing?” “It’s true,” he said. “The hatred is vicious and the punishment is violent.” “Have you ever been hurt yourself?” “Yes, I’ve been spit upon, beaten with fists, with pipes, with chains and left a bloody mess.” “But you are pretty big. Weren’t you able to protect yourself sometimes, to fight back?” “Yes. At first I did fight back. I made some of them sorry that they had attacked me. But then I realized that by fighting back I wasn’t getting anywhere. The hatred coming at me in those fists and clubs was bouncing right off me back into the air, and it could just continue to spread like electricity. I decided not to fight back. I would let my body absorb that hatred, so that some of it would die in my body and not bounce back into the world. I now see that my job in the midst of evil is to make my body a grave for hate.””
This non-violent attitude is what Mary and Jesus both understood. They did not give back in kind to any evil directed at them, but took the evil, transformed it and gave back love, forgiveness and peace to this world. It is what we are all called to do. Resist the evil through transforming it and giving out peace, love and forgiveness instead.
This takes lots of grace, lots of reflecting in our hearts, where God is leading each of us, alone and together. We are asked to ponder, reflect in our hearts, open ourselves and let God in and give ourselves to God. If we let God in and let God lead us, we then can act in ways that will lessen the evil in our world. It is in this practice of deep prayer or contemplation that we will be able to let God in. Then like Mary we can absorb the evil, transform it and give out peace.
I would like to end with a song that may help us reach this deep contemplative place in us. (The words are on your chairs, or on the wall.) Just listen, let the music and the words resonate deep within you. Perhaps let this inner, contemplative, peaceful stance be one of your New Year’s Resolutions.
If Now My Mind Was Still
Sister Estelle White
then, where no ear can reach, deep in my soul,
I’d know the Living Word who makes me whole.
But, where no ear can reach, deep in my soul,
your love can pierce the dark, making me whole.
you, where no hand can touch, deep in my soul,
pour out your love divine, and make me whole.
Ronald Rolheiser, SACRED FIRE: A VISION FOR HUMAN AND CHRISTIAN MATURITY. Image Books. 2014. Page 166.
Sister Estelle White. IF NOW MY MIND WAS STILL. From the CD Sisters In Song Rejoice, published by Oregon Catholic Press.
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