Redemption For All, and Peace . . . Real Peace
“Who except God can give you peace? Has the world ever been able to satisfy the heart?” ~ Saint Gerard Majella
Today’s 1st Reading (Ezekiel 18:21-28) is certain to grab the astute reader’s immediate attention, for it is within the words of this passage that Jesus promises that the wicked man who turns away from the sins he has committed “shall surely live, he shall not die.” Conversely however, Jesus warns the noble man to be resolute, for if he turns from the path of virtue to evil, he will have broken the faith and committed sin, thus he shall die, essentially “grasping defeat from the jaws of victory” so to speak.
With Jesus, it isn’t so much how you start but instead how you finish. It’s a part of his never-ending desire to be in communion with us, to bring us to the light of eternal life. You may give in to the lies of Satan and give up on yourself. But Jesus will never give up on you.
Time and again throughout Scripture the message is loud and clear: it is never too late to “repent and believe the good news.”
For those on the other hand who already have the gift of God’s grace pulsating through their lives, the message here is instead one of perseverance, of constant spiritual renewal and refreshment. We must always compete well for the faith, avoid complacency and continually seek God’s grace to avoid sin, for “no man knoweth the day nor the hour” (Matthew 24:336) of the coming of our Lord. “Coasting into Heaven,” as my Pastor likes to refer to it whenever addressing the senior members of our Parish, many of whom have done tremendous work throughout their long lives on behalf of the poor, the handicapped, the imprisoned and the unborn just to name a few, is a no-no.
In today’s Gospel (Matthew 5:20-26) Jesus urges us to seek and pursue peace among each other. For all the rumination and hand wringing ~ pardon the pun ~ over the elimination of the “peace be with you” handshake during the celebration of the Mass in light of the Coronavirus outbreak, I wonder if the real message isn’t getting lost.
“Peace....peace is my gift to you,” says Jesus, the very message he brought to the Apostles in the upper room when he appeared to them in his Resurrected Body. “Mankind will not have peace until it turns with trust to My mercy." These were the words etched into the Journal of St Faustina as captured in her epic Diary “Divine Mercy in my Soul.”
So many times in my life I have encountered people who were struggling and suffering, perhaps due to an addiction or an abusive relationship. In those instances where the subject in question was able to break free from his or her addiction or perhaps sever ties from the relationship that was literally choking the very life out of them, their motivation for doing as made manifest in their spoken words was that “I simply wanted peace in my life, a peace that had been missing for so long.”
Our souls must be kept at peace in order to be able to be attentive and faithful to the inner movement of the Holy Spirit, which burns inside each and every one of us. Or as Saint Jerome so eloquently once said it, "Be at peace with your own soul, then heaven and earth will be at peace with you."
We adore you O Christ and we praise you. For by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.”