Summary: The word of God helps us to pursue true peace.

Thursday of Third Week in Course 2016–St Thomas Aquinas

Joy of the Gospel

God made a promise to King David because of his faithfulness to worship of Him. David had succeeded to the leadership of all twelve tribes of Israel some time before this. He was secure from his enemies–for the time being–and thought to build a temple to replace the tent that the Ark of Covenant had been housed in. But God did not permit David to do this–in fact there is some question in both the OT and New whether God really wanted a temple, even the magnificent one built by Solomon. Instead of letting David build a house for God, the Lord promised to build David a house–a family that would rule Israel. Now not long after this period, David succumbed to lust for Bathsheba, and the horrid family troubles that followed haunted him to the end of his days. It is an immutable law: the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you. That’s true both for good or evil actions. And the dark side of this law of human behavior is what has deprived our human race of peace.

The Holy Father’s encyclical is heading for home plate after two years of my preaching on it: ‘Peace in society cannot be understood as pacification or the mere absence of violence resulting from the domination of one part of society over others. Nor does true peace act as a pretext for justifying a social structure which silences or appeases the poor, so that the more affluent can placidly support their lifestyle while others have to make do as they can. Demands involving the distribution of wealth, concern for the poor and human rights cannot be suppressed under the guise of creating a consensus on paper or a transient peace for a contented minority. The dignity of the human person and the common good rank higher than the comfort of those who refuse to renounce their privileges. When these values are threatened, a prophetic voice must be raised.

‘Nor is peace “simply the absence of warfare, based on a precarious balance of power; it is fashioned by efforts directed day after day towards the establishment of the ordered universe willed by God, with a more perfect justice among men” In the end, a peace which is not the result of integral development will be doomed; it will always spawn new conflicts and various forms of violence.

‘People in every nation enhance the social dimension of their lives by acting as committed and responsible citizens, not as a mob swayed by the powers that be. Let us not forget that “responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation” Yet becoming a people demands something more. It is an ongoing process in which every new generation must take part: a slow and arduous effort calling for a desire for integration and a willingness to achieve this through the growth of a peaceful and multifaceted culture of encounter.

‘Progress in building a people in peace, justice and fraternity depends on four principles related to constant tensions present in every social reality. These derive from the pillars of the Church’s social doctrine, which serve as “primary and fundamental parameters of reference for interpreting and evaluating social phenomena” In their light [the Pope says he] would now like to set forth these four specific principles which can guide the development of life in society and the building of a people where differences are harmonized within a shared pursuit. I do so out of the conviction that their application can be a genuine path to peace within each nation and in the entire world.’

The principles he will next speak on I will outline for you: Time is greater than space, Unity prevails over conflict, Realities are more important than ideas, and The whole is greater than the part. We have to remember that the Holy Father is preaching not just to us Catholics, but to the whole world, and he is envisioning a total remaking of society in the image of Christ. So we have to be prepared to change our minds and hearts to match the Gospel and its joy.

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