Finding Peace

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10

In those days, the princes said to the king: “Jeremiah ought to be put to death; he is demoralizing the soldiers who are left in this city, and all the people, by speaking such things to them; he is not interested in the welfare of our people, but in their ruin.” King Zedekiah answered: “He is in your power”; for the king could do nothing with them. And so they took Jeremiah and threw him into the cistern of Prince Malchiah, which was in the quarters of the guard, letting him down with ropes. There was no water in the cistern, only mud, and Jeremiah sank into the mud. Ebed-melech, a court official, went there from the palace and said to him: “My lord king, these men have been at fault in all they have done to the prophet Jeremiah, casting him into the cistern. He will die of famine on the spot, for there is no more food in the city.” Then the king ordered Ebed-melech the Cushite to take three men along with him, and draw the prophet Jeremiah out of the cistern before he should die.

Hebrews 12:1-4

Brothers and sisters: Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God. Consider how he endured such opposition from sinners, in order that you may not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.

Luke 12:49-53

Jesus said to his disciples: “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”

Our world today is dominated by wars, conflicts and divisions; between and within countries, cultures, religions and families. Chaos dominated the news of the day; from trade wars, refugee tragedies, citizen protests, gun shots, family breakdowns to road rage. We are indeed witnessing the “division” that Jesus proclaimed in the Gospel reading of this Sunday (Luke 12:51).

In the midst of this unrest, can we be a maker of peace?

In his book “Finding Peace”, Jean Vanier said that peacemaking is not just about doing big things to solve big conflicts; we can become persons of peace wherever we may be, in our family, at work, in our parish, or in our neighbourhood. We must open our hearts to welcome others inside and outside of our community, our culture and our faith group. We must not judge or condemn or speak poorly of people. We welcome people who are weak and in need, maybe just with a smile, by giving them support, or offering them kindness and tenderness. We welcome those with whom we may have difficulty or do not like, as well as those who are culturally, psychologically or intellectually different from us. We must not approach people from a pedestal, a position of power to solve problems, but from a place of listening, understanding, humility and love. This implies a fundamental equality: no one person is superior to another. Then we become more open to the love and compassion of God that give us strength, courage and wisdom to believe that every person is important and precious to God. Walls that separate people and societies start to weaken in this gentle encounter. Building relationships imply openness and caring for others that reveals to them their value and their gifts.

As I was reading this book, I recalled a mother and son sitting next to me while watching a show in a theme park. The mother who was in a wheelchair said appreciatively but apologetically to the son that it must have been very strenuous for him to push her around in the heat of summer for her to enjoy the huge park. The son replied gently “Mom, this is good exercise for me, I need exercise. And I can enjoy more when we go to the buffet”. From the mother’s bright smile, I figure that if she has any uneasiness or fear that she might be a burden to the son is completely removed with his gentle reassurance. I seem to understand what Vanier means when we care for someone, we have to reveal to them their value. Then it becomes easier to open people’s hearts to build stronger bonds and relationships that enable us to walk together on the road of kindness, compassion and peace.

Posted: August 18, 2019

Shiu Lan

Shiu Lan is your Catholic neighbour with a simple faith and likes praying the Rosary. With a B.Sc from the University of Hong Kong, she worked in Information Technology and Project Management before working with joy at home.

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