Peace a result of war PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 13 August 2016 13:43

REFLECTION

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

“Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” (Lk 12,51)

What intriguing words from Christ! He is supposed to be the Prince of Peace. (cfr Is 9,6) At his birth, a host of angels sang praises to him: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!” (Lk 2,13) Then why did he say he has not come to establish peace on the earth?

The answer could very well be that war and peace somehow go together. To have peace, some war has to be waged. It cannot be any other way. A peace without a war is a false peace.

And that’s simply because our life here on earth necessarily involves some warfare. The forces of good and evil do their battle all over the place, first in the hearts of men and then in many other arenas—practically in all the fields where human freedom is involved.

It’s true that peace is part of the ultimate goal all of us are seeking. It’s part of that inmost longing for joy that every human heart possesses. But to have that peace, we need to wage war precisely against those forces and elements that would undermine our pristine desire for endless peace.

That is how we have to understand those words of Christ cited above. He wants us to make war against the enemies of God and of men. And this war can take very subtle forms as when we spoil something that in itself is actually good.

This can take place when, for example, we disfigure our otherwise good act of loving our parents and others by getting too attached to them that we give priority to them over God.

And this kind of disfigurement can happen in the other aspects of our life, like when our legitimate love for work becomes workaholism, our piety declines into pietism, our sanctity degenerates into sanctimony, our faith gets corrupted by superstitions, our love for country or patriotism turns into a narrow-minded, exclusivistic nationalism, etc.

We have to remember that the truly good things always attract the attention of evil. The latter can always try to spoil what is good in very treacherous ways. That’s why temptations and other harmful things often look good and attractive.

It’s not that we should become paranoid, always looking for dangers everywhere, ever suspicious of people and things. But neither should we be naïve as to think that everything is just fine and that there are no dangers around.

In fact, when things look all fine, that’s when we should be most guarded, precisely because that condition is most attractive to evil forces. That’s when we should be most strict with ourselves, avoiding falling into complacency and self-satisfaction.

We need to be more aware of the danger of a spiritual and moral illness called lukewarmness that can easily befall on us. It’s a spiritual and moral anomaly that’s most common, but also most hidden and most vicious.

It continually self-mutates to adapt to changing conditions of the persons. Its most perverted effect is to make one think he’s ok spiritually, when in reality he’s far from it.

Lukewarmness is actually self-love. It’s just self-seeking. It’s not real love. It’s not the love God has meant for us, the one he shares with us, the one Christ referred to when he commanded us to “Love one another as I have loved you.” (Jn 13,34)

Thus, lukewarmness distorts love. It’s loving not in God’s terms but in one’s own exclusive terms. It’s a loving that springs from one’s self-justifying reasons.

It always likes to mask itself as loving, and is skillful at it. That’s why, not only can it hold a person hostage, it can effectively captivate peoples and societies and cultures.

We need a strong and jolting reality check to wake us up from this predicament. First we need to be rescued from the mainstream idea that true love is what comes simply from one’s heart, but not necessarily from God. It’s more a matter of feelings, of what pleases and satisfies one’s own desires.

This, to me, is the very virus responsible for lukewarmness. Human love in all its forms can only be true love if it flows from the love of God. Lukewarmness is a love that is averse to making sacrifices, the touchstone of genuine love. Our challenge is how to convince everyone of the intrinsic fallacy of this kind of love.

That’s why we even have to make war with our own selves.