How Theology Should Work Pt. 2: Theology should bring peace

Posted on August 1, 2007. Filed under: Spiritual Musings, Theological Crap |

This is by far the worst post I’ve ever done.  It has taken me about a month to write it because I just couldn’t get it to work right.  But instead of leaving people w/o a continuation, here it is. 

As a continuation from Part One, Theology should bring peace:

There are many references in the Catholic Tradition to personal as well as communal/worldly peace.  During the Communion Rite of the Mass, the priest says during the Lord’s Prayer: “Deliver us, Lord, from every evil and grant us peace in our day”.  During the Sign of Peace we hear, “Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your apostles, “I leave you peace, my peace I give to you”…grant us the peace and unity of your kingdom where you live and reign forever and ever.” Then he says “The peace of the Lord be with you always (or the shortened version or ‘Peace be with you all’)…”Let us offer each other a sign of peace”.  The last line of the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) we recite “Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world; grant us peace.” And finally, during the concluding rite, we are told to, “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord”. 

So many times and in so many ways we have heard about social action and seeking peace in our time and in our world.  We attend rallies and sign petitions protesting the war.  We call our congressmen and women about challenging the United Nations with ending the violence in Darfur and other areas of the world most of us have never heard of and most of us don’t care about.  We seek to feed the hungry and shelter the homeless in our cities.  When someone in our families is hurting, we usually (and I underline USUALLY) come to their aid.  The search for outer peace is often times shoved in our faces, as a reminder that something must be done about it.  Unfortunately, what seem like the best and easiest ways to go about this aren’t necessarily the most helpful.  One thing that Liberation Theologians such as Leonardo and Clodovis Boff try to make evident is the fact that sending aid and helping those who are oppressed and down-trodden may be making the problem even worse by keeping the people that you are trying to help in the situation that they are in.

Regardless of whether or not we are helping or hurting, every day we are faced with the consequences of and the demands from a world that does not have peace.  Most of us do what we can to work toward bringing peace to others in some way.  One thing I try to do every day is give someone a compliment.  That may not be what another is willing or able to do.  Since I am unable to go to Sri Lanka and try to mediate peace as a single man, I do what I can in my everyday life until I can get to a place where bigger things can happen.

Less talked about is something all of us desire and long for (especially when it is elusive); inner peace.  Theology should bring a sense of comfort that everything will come out in the end.  When bad times come, better times will follow eventually.  It’s a matter of patience and strength.  Many of those who know me know that for the past couple of years I have been in the worst funk of my life.  I hated everything.  I neither sought comfort nor wanted to be comforted by anyone I knew.  But I still had a burning desire for everything to right itself again.

My favorite verse in the entire bible isn’t even a whole verse.  Revelation 22:3a.  Some translations have it, “There will no longer be any curse”.  This is what makes things worth it for me.  This in the end is not what brings the storm to a cessation but it at least helps me to ride it out.  I’m not going to blow smoke in your face and try to convince you that your struggles and worries and fears can somehow magically go away.  I’m not going to say that anxieties and depressions can be solved by simply waving your hand or believing in the right thing.  That is not what inner peace is about.  Inner peace comes from understanding that somehow, someway this will all come to an end.  One day it will all be worth it and the hopes, excitements, dreams, fears, hurts, worries, etc. will all come together and it will all be worth it.  Christian from the book A Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, upon kneeling at the foot of the cross, lost his burden from around his shoulders, but his journey and his trials and tribulations were nowhere near finished. 

This inner peace that we seek isn’t a loss of all that worries us, it is not a loss of all that can defeat us.  It is something that we can gain by understanding that suffering through this latest bout of whatever nastiness life has decided to throw our way is always able to be either overcome or out-waited.  Inner peace is knowing that even though things are out of our control, eventually, some way, good shall return, calm shall return.  Inner peace comes through loving and being loved.

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