Strive for peace with everyone, and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one be deprived of the grace of God, that no bitter root spring up and cause trouble, through which many may become defiled.
There are some people who "strive for peace" all the time, meaning they avoid conflict on every occasion. Others seem to revel in mischief and discord, arguing for argument's sake.
I have been reading another book on my favorite subject, the Holy Trinity; and it seems there are some people who challenge the doctrine of the Church simply because it's the Church's doctrine. Scripturally and logically they haven't a leg to stand on, but they seem to feel constitutionally incapable of agreeing with Protestant "Tradition" or Catholic "Magisterium", and so they disagree.
Personally, I am inclined to avoid conflict at all costs. That's not because I love God or peace, I just hate conflict.
But, sometimes the only way to peace is through conflict. There are situations which demand deliberate attention, not only from the individuals involved but from the community.
I know a community of Poor Clare Sisters who spend two days each month in "chapter." Most friaries (of male Franciscans) spend an hour or two each month in chapter. These are the meetings in which we share vital information and make important decisions. The friars might wonder, "What on earth are the sisters discussing for two days?"
With much prayer they discuss the decisions they must make and, more importantly, the best ways to make the decision. They air their feelings about the discussion and the decision. They ask, "Was every voice heard? Has anyone been too frightened, disheartened or cynical to speak as we looked at this issue? Is anyone uncomfortable with this decision?"
|Today is the feast of |
Saint Bridget of Ireland
Living in close community they understand that resentments will always resurface, hidden reservations will always appear.
Sometimes they must agree to disagree. They can come back next month to see how they feel about the decision and its consequences. At other times they decide the decision can be put off; it's not worth the risk of dividing the community.
The sisters believe that God's first intention for them is their communion, that each member should devoutly respect and admire every other member.
Striving for peace begins with the reverence we have for our fellow Christians within the Church; and for those with whom we disagree outside the Church.
A recent NPR assessment of the Obama administration recalled how the President finally realized it was not his ideas or beliefs the opposition hated; it was him. Though he had committed no crime and fomented no scandal, though his personal life as a husband and father has been exemplary, he was hated by many. Pollsters often noted that the same voters who categorically rejected Obamacare welcomed the Affordable Care Act -- although they are the same thing. His opponents successfully used that hatred to advance their agenda. (I would hate to be in their shoes on Judgment Day.)
African-Americans know he is despised for his race. They are deeply familiar with it and not especially surprised. The government was frozen by the personal hatred many bore for a President who twice won a majority of votes.
The United States, of course, is not the Promised Land; neither is it a City on the Hill. It's just another country in the endless history of the world, but those who are familiar with the Gospel must bring their beliefs to bear on their duties as citizens. If they fail to bring to a discussion about race, abortion, violence, drugs or poverty respect for their opponents they fail to strive for peace, and bear that responsibility.
Fortunately, Catholics have the Sacrament of Penance whereby we begin to make atonement for our sins.