September-International Day of Peace
Reflection by Lynn McWilliams
The frequency with which Jesus says ‘peace be with you’ in the gospels is in many ways quite alarming! It is as if, even in the 1st century, he picks up on what would later be termed existential angst, that human inclination to view the world with trepidation.
President Franklin Roosevelt once said, ‘We have nothing to fear but fear itself.’ His words remind us of the crippling power of fear. Peace starts with each of us as individuals. War is the extrapolation of the individual fear and violence that dwells in our hearts. Jesus knew this. Perhaps it is why he so often extends his peace and tells people not to be afraid.
Today we dwell in a world distorted by fear and violence. War, poverty, environmental degradation are all forms of violence. How do we counter this? Well, there are no simple answers. Perhaps Dr King addressed this most eloquently when he said, ‘ Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.’ We become agents of peace minute by minute as we look upon our fellow men and women as fellow pilgrims, wrapped in the dignity of God’s love. Is this easy? Often not. But the alternative of letting the darkness win is the most terrifying option. Only light can drive out the darkness! St Teresa of Kolkata said, ‘if we have no peace it is because we have forgotten that we belong to one another’. Perhaps now, more than at any other time in history, it is time to discover this fundamental truth.
Isaiah 2: 2-4
New International Version (NIV)
This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem:
In the last days
the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established
as the highest of the mountains;
it will be exalted above the hills,
and all nations will stream to it.
Many peoples will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the temple of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
so that we may walk in his paths.”
The law will go out from Zion,
the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He will judge between the nations
and will settle disputes for many peoples.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore.