“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. [So] do not let your heart be troubled or afraid.” – John 14:27
Recently, my reflections have centered on the concept of “peace” and the lack of peace in our world. As an African-American, I have a personal interest in the events headlining the news dealing with racial injustice and violence in the past several months. As a religious Sister, I am drawn to the necessity of promoting equality and justice in all areas of life as an essential part of proclaiming the gospel. And as a member of a religious congregation bearing the name of Dominican Sisters of Peace, I am conscious of the need to discern how I am being called to embody our commitment to “Be Peace, Build Peace and Preach Peace” in responding with gospel values to these particular “signs of the times.”
I was barely 18 years old at the end of the Civil Rights Movement in 1968. Many of the struggles and advancements that happened in the movement, I was too young to really appreciate or fully understand. In the present movement that seems to be emerging, I am all too familiar with some of the social and economic struggles linked to the current violence and unrest in 2015. The issues today are complex and they are not simply about racial disparity and police violence. A key issue centers on the economic disparity that afflicts communities of color. It is poverty that helps to sustain the cancer of injustice and, in many ways, the cycle of violence.
In the absence of justice, it is difficult to find peace. Yet, Christians and all people of goodwill are called to work for peace, as well as justice. The peace that Jesus talks about is, indeed, a peace that the world cannot give. It is the kind of peace that enables clarity of vision and purity of purpose. It is the kind of peace that informed the conscience and the work of people such as Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Aung San Suu Kyi, Dorothy Day, Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa, Rosa Parks and Oscar Romero. While most are familiar with these well-known peacemakers, there are many others, who are not known and who daily strive to promote peace.
I continue to pray about how I am best called to use my gifts in addressing the challenging needs and circumstances of today’s emerging movement. I am convinced that peace and non-violence is at the core of any lasting change. I am also convinced that in order to promote peace and lasting change – one must possess within themselves “the peace that the world cannot give.”
There are many issues and challenges in our local, national and global society. Where and how are you being called to share your gifts and promote the peace of Christ in our world today?