The Meaning of Peace

12-06-2020Weekly Reflection

Humpty Dumpty and Peace

The Humpty Dumpty (HD) Nursery Rhyme shows the loss of peace. The high wall that HD sits on is human nature created by God enhanced with His special gifts: immortality, perfect harmony of body and soul, easy access to knowledge, and intimate friendship with God through sanctifying grace. HD’s great fall was original sin and HD’s humanity pulled apart, fractured by original sin. Sin is not about breaking rules as often is said but about wounds to our humanity, which as the nursery rhyme goes no King, or earthly power can put HD back together again. The person, who sins, acts against himself. The meaning of peace, the Hebrew word shalom is to be made whole, to be put back together again. This is the gift of the Messiah, Jesus Christ our Lord to those who will accept it. The meditation below is by Fr. Francis Fernandez in his book of meditations, Conversation with God Volume 1. (Edited)


Peace, a gift of God. It is lost through sin, pride and insincerity. Peace is one of the great goods constantly implored from God in the Old Testament. It is this gift that is promised to the people of Israel as a reward for their fidelity,[24] and it is seen as a work of God[25] from which flow uncountable benefits. But real peace came to the world only with the coming of the Messiah….The presence of Christ in our lives is always the source of a calm and indestructible peace: It is I, do not be afraid, he tells us. The teaching of Our Lord constitutes the good news of peace.[31] And this same peace is also the treasure he has passed on to his disciples in every age: Peace I leave you; my peace I give you; not as the world gives it do I give it you.[32]Earthly peace, which comes from love of our fellow man, is a type and a result of the peace of Christ issuing from God the Father. The incarnate Son himself, the Prince of peace, reconciled all men to God through his cross. In his own flesh he killed hatred, and after he had risen he poured out the Spirit of charity into the hearts of men.[33] The peace of God completely transcends an earthly peace, which can so easily be superficial and unreal, stemming often from selfishness, and not at all incompatible with injustice. Christ is our peace[34] and our joy. Sin, on the other hand, sows nothing but loneliness, anxiety and sadness in the soul. Christian peace, so necessary for apostolate and good fellowship, is the product of interior order, of a consciousness of our own failings and virtues, of unfailing respect for others and a complete confidence in God, who, we know, will never abandon us. It is the consequence of humility, of awareness of our divine filiation* (Editor:* Filiation means the status of a baptized person as God’s son or daughter) and of the struggle against our own passions, which tend always towards disorder and disruption. We lose our peace through sin, through pride and by not being sincere with ourselves and with God. Peace can also be lost through impatience; when we are unable to see the providential hand of God in times of difficulty and contradiction. The sincere confession of our sins is one of the main ways God has given us to recover the peace that has been lost through sin or by the failure to correspond with his grace. Peace with God, the result of justification and the rejection of sin; peace with our fellow men, the fruit of love dispersed by the Holy Spirit; peace with ourselves, the peace of conscience proceeding from victory over our passions and over evil.[35] The recovery of peace, if it has been lost, is one of the best signs of love for those around us, and its acquisition also the first task in preparing our hearts for the coming of the infant Christ.

3.2 True peace gives joy and serenity to those who lack them.

In the beatitude in which he proclaims the gift of peace, Our Lord is not merely seeking to do away with all kinds of controversy and enmity between men; he is asking more of us: that we try to bring peace, no less, to those who hate us.[36] The Christian is a man open to peace, and his presence should spread tranquility and happiness around him. But we are talking about real peace, not about those false states that are substitutes for it. Blessed are we when we know how to bring peace to the afflicted, when we serve as instruments of unity in our families, among our workmates and in all those we meet in the course of our daily lives. To put this vitally important commitment into practice, we have to be very humble and conciliatory, for pride does nothing but cause dissension.[37] The man who carries peace in his heart knows how to communicate it almost unthinkingly, and others look to him for support and for peace of mind. It is an enormous help in the apostolate. We Christians have to spread the interior peace we have in our hearts, wherever we find ourselves. Our Lord blesses in a special way those who pray for peace among nations and work, with a right intention, to obtain it. Above all, He blesses those who offer prayer and sacrifice in order to reconcile men with God. This is the first task in any kind of apostolic activity. The apostolate of Confession, which moves us to bring our friends to this Sacrament, must deserve a special reward in heaven, for it is surely the best source of peace and joy there is in the world. Those confessionals scattered about the world where men declare their sins don’t speak of the severity of God. Rather do they speak of his mercy. And all those who approach the confessional, sometimes after many years weighed down with mortal sins, in the moment of getting rid of this intolerable burden, find at last a longed for relief. They find joy and tranquility of conscience which, outside Confession, they will never be able to find anywhere.[38] Those who have the peace of God and pass it to those around them will be called the children of God.[39] St John Chrysostom explains why: Truly it has been the work of the only begotten One: to unite those who were apart and to reconcile those who were at war with one another.[40] Within our own family, at our place of work, and among our friends, cannot we too, in this time of Advent, impart a deeper sense of union with God among those around us and a still more loving and joyful fellowship?

3.3 Divine filiation, the foundation of our peace and of our joy.

When a man forgets his eternal destiny, and when the horizons of his life are limited by his earthly existence, he is content with a fictitious peace, with a mere outward appearance of tranquility. All he asks is the illusory security of attaining the greatest possible material well being with the least effort. In this way he builds an imperfect and unstable peace, since it is not rooted in the dignity of man, a person made in the image and likeness of God and called to his divine sonship. You must never be content with these substitutes for peace, for their fruit produces the most bitter disillusionment. Jesus Christ emphasized this when he said to his disciples shortly before his ascension into heaven: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you; not as the world gives do I give it to you. (John 14:27) There are thus two kinds of peace: that which men can make for themselves alone, and that which is the gift of God; ... that which is imposed by force of arms and that which is born in the heart. The former is fragile and insecure; it can be called a mere appearance of peace, for it is founded on fear and mistrust. The latter, on the contrary, is a strong and durable peace, and being founded on justice and love, it permeates the heart. It is a gift God gives to those who love his Law (cf Ps 119:165).[41] If we are men and women with true peace in our hearts we will be the better able to live like children of God and will the better be able to live brotherhood with our fellow men. Also, insofar as we realize that we are children of God, we will be men and women with lasting peace. Divine filiation is the foundation of the Christian’s peace and joy. In it we find the security we need, a fatherly warmth and trust for the future. We live in the assurance that behind all the disappointments of life there is a good reason: in everything God works for good with those who love him,[42] says St Paul to the first Christians in Rome. Considering our divine filiation will help us to be strong in the face of difficulties. Don’t be frightened; don’t fear any harm even though the circumstances in which you work are terrible ... God’s hand is as powerful as ever and, if necessary, he will work miracles.[43] We are well protected. Let us try then, in these days of Advent, to foster peace and joy, overcoming every obstacle. Let us learn to find God in everything, even in the most difficult situations. Seek his face Whoever dwells in real and bodily presence in his Church. Do at least as much as the disciples did. They had but little faith; they feared; they had no great confidence or peace, but at least they did not keep away from Christ ... Do not keep from him, but, when you are in trouble, come to him day by day, asking him earnestly and perseveringly for those favours which he alone can give ... So, though he discerns much infirmity in you which ought not to be there, yet he will deign to rebuke the winds and the sea, and say: Peace, be still. And there will be a great calm. [44] Mary, who is Queen of peace, will help us to have peace in our hearts, to recover it if we have lost it and pass it on to those around us. Since the feast of the Immaculate Conception is fast approaching, we will do all we can to turn to her all day long, keeping her closer to us in our work and offering her some special token of our affection.

[24] Lev 26:6 [25] Is 26:12 [26] Luke 2:14 [27] Divine Office, Antiphon [28] cf Is 11:1 10 [29] Is 9:6 [30] Luke 24:36 [31] Acts 10:36 [32] John 14:27 [33] Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et spes, 78 [34] Eph 2:14 [35] Blessed John Paul II, Address to UNIV 86, Rome, 24 March 1986 [36] St John Chrysostom, Homily on St Matthew 15:4 [37] Prov 13:10 [38] St. John Paul II, Homily, 16 March 1980 [39] cf Matt 5:9 [40] St John Chrysostom, Homily on St Matthew 15:4 [41] Blessed John Paul II, Address to UNIV 86, Rome, 24 March 1986 [42] Rom 8:28 [43] St J. Escrivá, Friends of God, 105 [44] J. H. Newman, Sermon for the Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, 1848