Wednesday, November 18, 2015

What Makes for Peace?

In tomorrow's Gospel we see Jesus weeping over the city of Jerusalem.  "If this day you only knew what makes for peace..."  Oh, how we still today are seeking that answer.  It was right in front of them though.  Jesus Christ is the Kingdom of God.  It was right in front of them and they failed to see it.  Don't we still do that today?  All of us know that peace is to be had by just turning to Christ.  By accepting him into our lives, turning over our burdens, and simply walking as he walked; we will find peace and joy.  Why is it so hard for us humans to turn over that control?

Jesus then goes on to talk about the coming destruction of Jerusalem.  This prophetic statement came to pass in the year 70 A.D.  At that point the temple was destroyed.   The temple was the center of religious life.  It was there that they believed God was.  Today we have this notion that God is everywhere, and so he is.  To the Jews though, he lived in the temple.  You came to him in the temple.  You sacrificed to him in the temple.  For the temple to be destroyed would have been a sign that God no longer rested with the people of Israel.  How confounding that must have been?  To think that God was no longer with you anymore, it was a devastating blow to an already long suffering nation of people.

The real answer lied in who Jesus was though.  They did not realize him to be God among them.  Sure, some thought he was the messiah.  The messiah they wanted though was a military leader, like Mattathias of Maccabees.   They wanted a man who was zealous for the temple, and so Jesus was.  They wanted a holy man who kept the law, and so he was.  They wanted him to raise up an army and destroy their enemies.   In their eyes, he wasn't doing that.  Here he cries for them.  He cries out of love for them and of sorrow for the coming destruction.  He cries because they don't have peace.

You and I don't always have peace either.  We believe in Jesus.   We see him as the Messiah, just as they did.  We see him as the one to fight our battles, to help us keep the law, to be a man of faith, to raise up an army of angels to defend us in battle; all good images.  I think sometimes we see him as the Messiah we want though.. not the one that He truly is.  We limit God to a box.  We take the part of the gospels we want, and reject the parts we don't.   We adhere to the tenants of our faith that make sense to us, and those that confuse us we simply ignore.  "Oh that one, yeah that one I don't agree with, so I just ignore it."  If we truly 'recognized the time of our visitation' would we do such things?  If we truly believed with our entire heart, soul and spirit; would we compromise our faith?

So what do we do?  Once again, the answer lies in the Sacraments.   Let us flee to him as often as we can.   Go to him on your knees and confess your faults.  Receive him in the Eucharist.  Unlike normal bread that you consume, this super substantial bread consumes you.  Let him change you, make you more like him.  Spend time with him in prayer and adoration.  Then, last but definitely not least, share him with others.  Take him out with you into the world and give him to others.  Share your peace.  Only in sharing it can you ever hope to keep it.

As we see these stories in the news of Syrian refugees, being wrested too and fro, rejected and kicked out; we have a unique opportunity to ask ourselves... are we truly at peace?  Is the answer to reject everyone who is not one of us?  Are we to allow fear and fear mongering to convince us that all of these men, women and children are the devil? Or do we need to give it more thought?  The Bible says that what we do for the least of these... we do for Christ, our Lord.  When you look at these refugees, the good, the bad, the young, the old... ask yourself.. am I looking for Christ in them?  Or only worried about my own comfort and safety? 

I am afraid.  I don't know the answer.   I do know this... when I saw that image of the young Syrian child on the sea shore, laying dead in the waves... I too wept.  I wonder if my eyes have been closed for too long, or if I truly realize that Christ is among us.  As we approach the end of the liturgical year, culminating in the feast of Christ the King... we must begin to ask ourselves.. is Christ truly our King?  Do we see him among us?  Or only in those we want to see him in?  Are we ready to give ourselves over completely to Him? 

So I just leave you with Christ's words as he says: "If this day you only knew what makes for peace-but now it's hidden from your eyes."  Let us open our eyes. 

His servant and yours,
In Christ,