Happy New Year! Many of us have established New Year’s resolutions to address self-improvement. Perhaps it’s time to take off a few pounds, or exercise more. Whatever your reasons, you are looking to self-improve. In true Christian fashion, we also take this time of year to express our hopes and dreams for improvement outside of ourselves, extending to our communities, society and the world. Many of us hope for world peace; a peace on earth that extends to all people of good will.
With every generation, we state that peace has never been needed more than today. That is because humanity, due to our concupiscence, sins. When we sin, we cause pain for ourselves and others, resulting in a deprivation of peace. When sin is allowed to permeate our lives, we crowd out Christ’s peace. For when we sin, we turn our backs on God, the giver of grace, love and all that is good.
When we look at the evils that permeate society, (wars, conflicts, human trafficking, slavery, domestic violence, murder, to name a few), we tend to feel helpless as individuals. We think that any solution is far too complex for any one person to resolve, thus the feeling of helplessness surfaces. Rather than looking outward for a solution to bring about world peace, may I suggest that you look inward? Identify your own sinfulness. Confess your sins and receive Christ’s peace. For, it is as an individual that you will find the path to peace – a peace for yourself, your community, society and the world.
When we have conformed ourselves to Christ and received His Peace, we are enabled by Him to spread His peace to others. Peace is both a virtue and a fruit of the Holy Spirit. By conforming ourselves to Christ, we embrace the virtue of peace, and allow Christ’s peace to work within us. By the very nature of our Christian witness, we shine like a beacon of peace, drawing the oppressed to the light of Christ. Our actions, in the form of kindnesses extended to others, bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit, bestowed upon humankind. As the oppressed draw near, we are able to spread Christ’s peace through our very actions.
It is very important to remember that we are all created in the image and likeness of God. The Divine Indwelling resides within every person. Therefore, everyone deserves to be treated with dignity, regardless of status in life. When we disrespect another human being, we disrespect God. When we show compassion and empathy toward our neighbor, we show love for God and neighbor. It is with this love that all people of good will may demonstrate true inner peace – the Peace of Christ.
So, my friend, the path to peace starts with you! Find it within you to be that beacon of Christ’s light. Alleviate the suffering of the oppressed through small acts of kindness. Watch as the good ripples of peace emanate from your being as the fruit of the Holy Spirit blossoms. Christ’s Peace be with you!
Virginia Lieto teaches in the Catechetical Certificate Program for Saint Joseph’s College Online.