Revised October 2021
We are given the peace of Christ in order to be the peace of Christ in our world today. But the peace that flows from the crucified Christ is strikingly different from our customary understandings of peace. We often think of peace as little more than the absence of conflict. Or we equate peace with the fragile tranquility that results when we agree to tolerate most anything or simply leave one another alone. Christ’s peace, however, is defined not by the absence of conflict, but by the presence of a people committed to embodying the reconciling love of God in the world.
The most recent encyclical from Pope Francis, Fratelli Tutti, and the challenges he poses in it, deserves time and spiritual work for all of us. It also deserves more than “checking the box” for something we've read and filed away. That would be to avoid the very thing Francis warns of: a "desensitized human conscience."
As we emerge from the Lenten cycle, yes, make sure we've read the encyclical, and then make a covenant with ourselves to lean in into the challenges posed by Francis. Reflect on the parts that can lead to personal growth or even transformation. Francis doesn't hold back and the challenges feel overwhelming, but as we know through our communities and charism, that joining others in the work, “acting together in the common good” raising our voices, ending our silence is after all, the solution to nearly all the wrongs that face us. Maybe not in our lifetimes, but allowing us the wholeness of feeling that we have done enough. We have done what we can.
What projects call you? What causes do you already support; how you are already in motion? How will you communicate with those who disagree? How you will respond as a citizen, as a follower of Jesus and a compassionate human being?
Pax Christi International hosted one-hour webinars for reflection and discussion on the meaning of Fratelli Tutti in local contexts.
How can it be a resource for peacebuilding and impact the practice of peacebuilding? Does it change teaching on just war? How does it open dialogue on peace with Muslims? How does its Franciscan influence deepen the understanding of peacebuilding? The recording of the event is here.
Image: NCR Tim Mossholder (UnSplash)
Scott Wright is the Director of the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach
The Journey of Hope: A Meditation on War and Peace
"...Fast forward to today, and we find the children and grandchildren of these same refugees, and others like them, literally camped out in the cold and rain under plastic tarps, at the foot of a bridge in Mexico, waiting to make their claim to asylum in the U.S. This is the reality I saw on Thanksgiving Day, 2019, as I visited the Columban Mission in Juarez and El Paso. We have forgotten Pope Francis’ invitation, when he visited this border in 2016, to “build bridges, not walls.” We have become a nation of immigrants who has forgotten the dream of our ancestors...
Pope Francis’ recent World Day of Peace message is a reminder of how “the desire for peace lies deep within the human heart.” Like the Salvadoran refugee mother and those families camped out today on our southern border, we too bear deep within us both the wounds of war and the desire for peace."
Read Scott's beautiful reflection here
"Sowing peace is holiness, and, as such, it is a sacred undertaking. For those who continue to craft peace, they begin to understand that while they may be working on behalf of someone else, the work they do is transforming their hearts and minds. This transformation deepens their experience of and expression of holiness."
Read David's whole essay, Blessed are the Peacemakers here.
This essay was taken from the Fall issue of Passionist Magazine. You can see the whole issue here.
The Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM) approved a major resolution focusing on Gospel Nonviolence. They offer a substantial supplemental resource for communities working on the formation and implementation of a similar resolution or movement toward peacemaking and nonviolence.
Download the resource here