The voice of Christ is peace

Monday in the second week of Advent
Isaiah 35:1-10; Psalm 85:8-13; Luke 5:17-26

Psalm 85:8-9
I will listen to what the LORD God is saying, *
  for he is speaking peace to his faithful people
  and to those who turn their hearts to him.
Truly, his salvation is very near to those who fear him, *
  that his glory may dwell in our land.

Chi Rho mosaicFrom St. Augustine’s Exposition on the Book of Psalms (Psalm 85)
The voice of Christ, then, the voice of God, is peace: it calleth unto peace. Ho! it saith, whosoever are not yet in peace, love ye peace: for what can ye find better from me than peace? What is peace? Where there is no war. What is this, where there is no war? Where there is no contradiction, where there is no resistance, nothing to oppose. Consider if we are yet there: consider if there is not now a conflict with the devil, if all the saints and faithful ones wrestle not with the prince of demons. And how do they wrestle with him whom they see not? They wrestle with their own desires, by which he suggests unto them sins: and by not consenting to what he suggests, though they are not conquered, yet they fight. Therefore there is not yet peace where there is fighting. …

What peace then is that which men have here, opposed by so many troubles, desires, wants, wearinesses? This is no true, no perfect peace. What will be perfect peace? “This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Cor. 15:53). Persevere in eating much; this itself will kill thee: persevere in fasting much, by this thou wilt die: sit continually, being resolved not to rise up, by this thou wilt die: be always walking so as never to take rest, by this thou wilt die; watch continually, taking no sleep, by this thou wilt die; sleep continually, never watching, thus too thou wilt die. When therefore death shall be swallowed up in victory, these things shall no longer be: there will be full and eternal peace. …

There shall be peace made pure in the [children] of God, all loving one another, seeing one another full of God, since God shall be all in all. We shall have God as our common object of vision, God as our common possession, God as our common peace. … Lo, my brethren, do ye wish that unto you should belong that peace which God uttereth? Turn your heart unto him: not unto me, or unto that one, or unto any man. For whatever man would turn unto himself the hearts of men, he falleth with them. … Our joy, our peace, our rest, the end of all troubles, is none but God: blessed are “they that turn their hearts unto him.”

Reflection
I have little to add to St. Augustine’s lovely prose. This quote is already quite lengthy, and I have excerpted it. I encourage you to go read the whole thing.

In this time in our world when peace seems to far away, so unattainable, it is worth remembering: we will not find peace in our own devices and desires. Arming citizens will not bring peace. Coercive treaties will not bring peace. Multinational corporations’ bottom lines will not bring peace. If I think only of my own security, I will find no peace. Only in God will we find peace. I would do well to start in my own heart, my own life.

And of course, peace comes with justice as its companion. Profound inequity brings inherent violence. One person’s success at the expense of another prevents peace. Working for peace in our time requires many things, not the least of which is working for justice. There are no easy answers to attaining peace in this earthly life, but we Christians would do well to pray fervently the words of the psalmist.

I will listen to what the LORD God is saying, *
  for he is speaking peace to his faithful people
  and to those who turn their hearts to him.
Truly, his salvation is very near to those who fear him, *
  that his glory may dwell in our land.

Let us in this Advent season listen for the voice of Christ, the voice of peace.

Photo by yours truly of the mosaic floor in the Church of the Dormition, Jerusalem.

You may also like...

Leave a comment!