Real Peace

Thursday of 33rd Week in Ordinary Time

   Presentation of Mary

1 Mac 2: 15-29; Luke 19: 41-44

Deacon Larry Brockman


“If this day you only knew what makes for peace”!  That’s what Jesus tells his contemporaries in our Gospel.  First, he grieves over the pending doom of Jerusalem and its temple, symbols of the Israeli nation and Jewish Faith.  He says they “will be encircled on all sides and smashed to the ground with their children”.  Why? Because “you did not recognize the time of your visitation”.

I wonder whether Jesus would tell us the same if he were in this Church today?  We are at the end of the Church year and will begin Advent shortly.  That’s the time in the Church Year when we are promised our visitation by the Lord.  During each Church year, we are first challenged to welcome Jesus as our savior during Advent and Christmas, by waiting for, and then rejoicing that God became man and showed us the way.   Then, we are called upon to witness the sacrifice Jesus made for us on the Cross as a saving act for our salvation during Lent; only to celebrate the promise of salvation to all of us who follow Jesus during Easter.  Yes, we are asked to accept our own crosses and to do as Jesus did- bearing our hardships with Faith and dignity because of that promise of salvation and the Kingdom of God.  And then for a half a year, during the many weeks of Ordinary Time, we go through the Old Testament, the Gospel and the stories of the Apostles and learn from these parables and stories just what it means to put our Faith into practice.  We have a year to recognize the time of our visitation and to learn what it means before the process repeats itself.

But do we get it?  Do we understand that the promise of salvation and the Kingdom of God depends on our commitment to our Faith?  Yes, we have to show we believe by putting our faith into practice.  And not only that, we have an obligation to work together as a people, as a church, to spread that Kingdom and to defend it.  Our Faith is not a private thing that is between us and God.  It needs to be a public thing.  We need to be committed to our Faith and Jesus

Now the story in our first reading is an interesting lesson about this this whole process.  You see, the Greeks had conquered the Jews, and were imposing their culture and lifestyle on Israel.  As long as everyone cooperated, everything would be OK.  But cooperating meant publically recognizing the Greek Gods and placing emphasis on loyalty to the state and it’s King.   Most of the people decided to go along with the Greeks.  After all, they could make a public display of support for the King, and then privately believe what they wanted.  But the point is, that isn’t good enough.

Mattathias was a holdout, a person who rallied his family and a remnant of the Jews to stick to their religion and the Covenant with the Lord.  And while he is making his impassioned speech in defense of that position, someone has the gall to come up to the altar, and cave in to the state.  This evokes a strong impassioned response by Mattathias.  The message is simply this:  We cannot compromise our Faith; we cannot coexist with the forces of evil.

I can see many signs of the same thing happening in our society.  We have politicians who say that privately they follow what the Church teaches; but they have a public duty to follow the wishes of our secular government.  We have folks who come to Church to satisfy their Sunday obligation; but then walk out of the Church and put their faith on hold while they live their daily lives, behaving as society expects them to; being part of the in crowd.  And we have people that believe that peace is the absence of confrontation, and so, whatever happens they remain passive and in the background because they don’t want to make waves, don’t want to cause trouble.  But you see, none of that will not do in the eyes of the Lord because like the Jews of Jesus time, such people do not recognize the time of their visitation.

This is the time of our visitation.  The question is, do we recognize it, and are we making the most of it?  Peace is what we all want.  But the peace that God provides is a different kind of peace.  Jesus might say to us_ “If only we knew what makes for that peace.”  But for us Christians, it is not hidden.  Our faith and living the Gospel without compromise, that’s what makes for real peace- the peace of God.

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