“FINALLY, BROTHERS, REJOICE. Mend your ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Cor 13:11). Who among us does not desire this? Whenever I hear these words, it’s as if the Spirit of God is whispering: “This is right. This is good. This is what we are made for.”
Indeed, we are made for this: a community built on mutual affection and care, filled with peace and rejoicing. To be free of quarrels and jealousies, to know you belong without judgment or contempt, to delight in the success of another and they in yours: These are the hallmarks of a godly society.
Turn to Christ
When we see the divisions in our world among nations, political parties, Church factions, even within the pews of our parishes and the walls of our homes, we can so easily become dismayed. We long for peace and unity, but how can it come to pass? There seem to be as many answers to that question as there are people to ask it. Some put their trust in political maneuvering, others in economic power or military might, others in technology and medicine.
Yet what I have found is this: While some put their trust in chariots and horses, we trust in the Lord. It is Christ and Christ alone who can heal the deep wounds that divide us. It is Christ alone who can bridge the vast expanse between us. Our job is to be open to his prompting, to go where he leads, to let go of our grievances, and join with those he puts in our lives.
I have seen marriages on the brink of divorce transformed into beacons of light. Where they once had sides, now they are one. The bridge that united them was Christ. It might seem trite to say couples ought to pray together, but I do say it because it works. Christ works. It is hard to pridefully boast or fight with another when you have invoked Christ to be in your midst.
Christ has the power to humble our spirits, and this is key. We cannot hope to be united or find peace so long as we still hold the weapons of jealousy, wounded pride, or the haughty spirit of indignation. We must let Christ win, and for that, we must accept defeat.
Smoothing Our Edges
I recall an image a mentor offered me years ago. I was a young man in formation living with a dozen other hotheaded youth. He likened us to a bunch of jagged rocks, held in a box and being shaken about. Each rock strikes the others, chipping away the edges, until all are made into smooth stones.
As a Church, we are together in Christ, and he wishes to chip away the edges. This requires the humility to accept that we need to be worked on. It is uncomfortable to admit our wrongs, our hurts, and our shortcomings. Yet it is essential.
To be healed, you must admit you need healing. Go to the physician. To gain wisdom, you must recognize your ignorance. Go to the teacher. To be fed, you must realize that what you are pursuing does not satisfy. Go to the one with bread from heaven. If we truly want peace in our lives, we must lay down our arms in surrender and go to the Prince of Peace. In this we are united and in this we will rejoice.