and there recall that your brother
has anything against you,
leave your gift there at the altar,
go first and be reconciled with your brother,
and then come and offer your gift.
The first duty of the Christian is peace. This must be our practice and our passion, our preference and desire, and our gift.
I have often been persuaded otherwise. Something else seemed more important. I needed to win this argument, or to attain that goal. I wanted the friars in my community to approve my project. I wanted the war to end --in Vietnam, Nicaragua, Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan, the "war on terror" -- but we're always at war!
Lustily I sang Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me but I had time only to sing the song.
Peace with me begins with the realization that peace will never begin anywhere else. It begins with a willingness to let God reveal peace to others in His time and their time, and not in mine. It begins when I notice how well God manages things when I stop trying to do it myself.
Jesus spoke of this surrender and letting go as if it were death:
Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. (John 12:24)The prospect of letting go has all the appeal of death. I think my ambitions and ideals are too important. Am I not fighting for what God wants? Don't I stand up and fight this noble fight for God?
But -- as the preacher said -- "When God needs me to fight for Him, God will be in very deep trouble."
Groups also can be sucked into that sense of urgency. First we'll solve the world's problems, and then we'll address our own. It doesn't work that way. Our first duty as a parish, friary or KC council is to practice peace. It is the rare organization that sequesters itself from the world, calls itself into secret council and says, "Okay, People. Let's work this out." One of these days -- and soon -- our broken Senate and House of Representatives will have to make that decision.
Peace begins when we allow it to enter our hearts. It stands ready, knocking at the door. We have only to rise from the pallet of death and welcome it.