PEACE COMES THROUGH SUBMISSION TO CHRIST
SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ ISAIAH 11:1-10; LUKE 10:21-24 ]
We are all looking for peace, peace in the troubled world, peace in our country, peace in our homes, peace in our offices, peace in our community and peace in our lives. Man is desperate for peace. When someone dies, our final wish for that person is, “May he rest in peace!” So peace is what matters. Without peace, there can be no real happiness even when we have plenty and our stomachs are full.
Why is there no peace in our hearts and in the world? Like Israel, we are faced with threats from within and without. From without, the Israelites were faced with the prospect of being attacked by the powerful kingdom of Assyria. From within, both political and religious leaders were corrupt, not walking the ways of the Lord, enriching themselves and practising all sorts of injustices and committing sins against morality and worshipping the pagan gods. For us as well, our external enemies are those that are not within our control. We have to contend with a secular, relativistic, pluralistic, individualistic and materialistic society. We have to live with difficult people in our lives, whether our spouse, in-laws, office colleagues and friends who betrayed us and used us. We are disheartened but unable to change the situation we are in. We feel trapped in a hole we are unable to get out of. Internally, we are filled with anger, hatred, un-forgiveness on one hand and on the other, we are also not living an honest, responsible and moral life. We are living in sin, cheating and drinking excessively, gambling and living in irregular relationships.
How do we find peace? Today, the scripture readings promise us that the Prince of Peace is on the way to restore peace in our lives. To the Israelites, the prophet Isaiah announced that God would destroy their enemy, the Assyrians. But He would also purify the people as well and remove the evil kings who were unfaithful to the Covenant. In other words, they would be exiled eventually. Cut down to size and left with a stump, among the remnants, “A shoot springs from the stock of Jesse, a scion thrusts from his roots: on him the spirit of the Lord rests, a spirit of wisdom and insight, a spirit of counsel and power, a spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.” God would give them a new king and restore dignity to Israel. As the psalmist declared, “In his days justice shall flourish and peace till the moon fails. He shall rule from sea to sea, from the Great River to earth’s bounds. For he shall save the poor when they cry and the needy who are helpless. He will have pity on the weak and save the lives of the poor.”
Indeed, the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled in the coming of Christ. He is the Messiah foretold, the One who is filled with the Spirit and endowed with all the messianic gifts to enable Him to bring the whole of humanity together under the rule of God. So in the gospel, we have Jesus sending out the 70 disciples earlier on to preach the Good News, to heal the sick and to cast out the devils. To their amazement, they returned with great rejoicing as they shared with Christ, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” (Lk 10:17) Indeed, these disciples were ordinary people, many were uneducated, and yet they were surprised that even the devils could be cast out in the name of Christ. By doing so, it is an indication that God reigns in this world again. Indeed, Jesus saw this as a sign that He would win victory over the devil at the end when He adjoined them saying, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you.” (Lk 10:18f) Truly, we are so blessed like the disciples, compared to the prophets in the Old Testament, as Jesus said, “Happy the eyes that see what you see, for I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see, and never saw it; to hear what you hear, and never heard it.” We have seen the power and marvels of God at work in our lives today as well!
However, there is a condition to this peace we are looking for; we need to have faith in Christ and submit to His rule. To heal and exorcise in the powerful name of Jesus is to surrender our entire life to Him so that He can act in and through us. This is what the Lord is asking of us when He said, “I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children.” With humility, we must surrender our lives to the Lord. We are called to be like Jesus, trusting in the divine providence of our Heavenly Father. “Yes, Father, for that is what it pleased you to do. Everything has been entrusted to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Only with this personal confidence in the love of the Father as Jesus had can we find peace, regardless of the situations we are in.
Only the proud and arrogant will destroy themselves because they want to have things their own way. Just before this episode, Jesus was warning the unrepentant cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum of their pride and failure to recognize the coming of the Messiah. So, too, when the Seventy returned rejoicing, the Lord warned them, “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Lk 10:20) In other words, even in our success, we must never allow pride to get into our head. This would be disastrous, for pride has been the cause of the downfall of the devils in the first place! So we can cast out devils through exorcism and preaching, but in the process, because of our pride, we fall into the same trap of the devils!
Secondly, we must seek to live a life of integrity. Very often, what causes us to lack peace in our lives is because we do not live a holistic and balanced life. The Messiah has come to teach us how to live a life of integrity. We need to keep a clear and clean conscience if we are to find peace in our hearts. This is what the prophet Isaiah says, “Integrity is the loincloth round his waist, faithfulness the belt around his hips.” If Jesus were a man of peace, it was because He was faithful to Himself. Sinlessness does not mean that a person is free from imperfection but that he is always true to himself and he lives a life that is in tune with his true nature. Unlike us, Jesus who was without original sin was free from a wounded nature. Hence, Jesus always acted according to His human nature perfectly, so that His human nature was completely aligned to His divine nature. The divine will of God also became His human will. That is why Jesus always found peace even in His trials, as in the Garden of Gethsemane. Hence, if we have lost our peace because we do not live lives of integrity, then we must spend time in examen and celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation so that the Lord can heal us of our blindness and give us new sight again to see Him clearly, His truth and His love. Jesus wants to restore our peace back to us. We must humble ourselves like children and come to Him for forgiveness and healing.
Peace from within must include peace with the world, with others and with nature. In fact, peace begins from within oneself, but it also embraces the world outside of us. This also explains why a man of peace is one with the whole creation, his fellowmen and even with God’s creatures, animals and plants. This is the spirituality of holistic ecology. This vision of integrity and alignment with the rest of creation is not new, for Isaiah spoke of the day when all human beings and even animals live in peace with each other. “The wolf lives with the lamb, the panther lies down with the kid, calf and lion cub feed together with a little boy to lead them. The cow and the bear make friends, their young lie down together. The lion eats straw like the ox. The infant plays over the cobra’s hole; into the viper’s lair the young child puts his hand. They do no hurt, nor harm, on all my holy mountain, for the country is filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters swell the sea.” Such a man of peace reminds us of St Francis who too lived in such a way that he was one with the whole of creation.
All this is possible because the Holy Spirit will give us the wisdom, understanding, knowledge, prudence, fortitude and devotion of the Messiah to handle our affairs rightly. God will help us to judge situations. “He does not judge by appearances, he gives no verdict on hearsay, but judges the wretched with integrity, and with equity gives a verdict for the poor of the land.” When we are less anxious and free from self-interest, we will be more sober to judge the situation clearly.
So as we prepare for the coming of the Prince of Peace, let us surrender our lives to Him like little children, trusting in His love and mercy. Like Jesus, there is no better way to come to know everything in and through Christ except in prayer. With humility and trust, let us sit before the Lord in silence and in contemplation, surrendering all our anxieties to Him and the storms in our hearts. He will calm our hearts and give us true peace within us, a peace that will in turn shine out to others so that as the prophet says, we become a beacon of peace and joy to others. “That day, the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples. It will be sought out by the nations and its home will be glorious.”
Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore © All Rights Reserved
Best Practices for Using the Daily Scripture Reflections
- Encounter God through the spirit of prayer and the scripture by reflecting and praying the Word of God daily. The purpose is to bring you to prayer and to a deeper union with the Lord on the level of the heart.
- Daily reflections when archived will lead many to accumulate all the reflections of the week and pray in one sitting. This will compromise your capacity to enter deeply into the Word of God, as the tendency is to read for knowledge rather than a prayerful reading of the Word for the purpose of developing a personal and affective relationship with the Lord.
- It is more important to pray deeply, not read widely. The current reflections of the day would be more than sufficient for anyone who wants to pray deeply and be led into an intimacy with the Lord.
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