The road to world peace is open to all. To use this road, people must trust other people. They have to be open to friendship, because we are all brothers and sisters on this earth. In reality, for most, it is not that simple. Age-old resistance and distrust carried forward from generation to generation have us set in our ways. These are not God's ways.
What happened on the Mount? "Jesus went up on the mountain, and when he sat down his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." (Mt. 5:1-10)
Can you call yourself a peacemaker? If you hate anyone, you cannot call yourself a peacemaker. If you hate a whole people, a nationality, a race, or anyone at all, either individually or collectively, you are not a peacemaker. A peacemaker is someone who loves everyone equally, as God does. God is perfect. Beside Him, no one else is perfect. But we must try to emulate God in His perfection. The road to perfection is littered with rose petals of love, charity, trust, friendship, and with suffering. Cleansing of the heart and soul takes suffering, as we attempt to change ourselves from what we were unrestrained, to a new person who is God-fearing and who loves others as self. Start small, start with one person, a neighbor or someone at work, then someone from Church, and expand from there.
The prayer of Jesus, the Our Father, which many rattle off without thinking about it, what this prayer signified... How can you pray the Our Father when you hate someone or even dislike someone... it says: "Give us this day our daily bread as we forgive those who sin against us." Our daily bread is "grace." - So one could say that if one does not forgive those who sin against us, we cannot be assured of grace that day. However, our God is merciful and compassionate. He looks at extenuating circumstances. He does not condone sin, however, although He loves the sinner.
For some it takes half a lifetime to understand what true friendship is. Friendship begins when we put ourselves into the background, and the other person, first. That takes "self-denial," a word all but lost from our vocabulary. The proof of love is in works of self-denial and this proof of devotion is something God demands of all His workers. The uncontrolled ego is a powerful enemy. We must not give into it. Self-denial is the path to controlling our egos, and also the path to an increasing love of God and our brothers and sisters.
"Unless we are convinced of our goodness, worth and dignity, we cannot do good to others or even to ourselves." (from "Accept yourself with love and Confidence by John M. Scott, SJ)
There is a hymn that starts with the words "We are called for each other." We're called for each other as we begin our journey together. Faith is the cornerstone of our relationship with God for when we have unwavering faith, we have begun eternal life. As we increase our relationship with Jesus, we also increase our love for each other. This is a 'horizontal' relationship as we have an obligation toward one another. St. Francis of Assisi called us together, to live the evangelical life, living the Gospel and especially, giving witness to each other.
Remember, Jesus is your friend too... in much of the same way... act accordingly! Friends are a gift from God. Do something good for your friend; a gift (prayer too) even when there is no special occasion. Friendship is never possessive.
We can all be sisters and brothers. I've thought about these things for many years, and I have come to the conclusion that the only way to love God totally is by loving everyone else too. I am sorry that people do not trust one another. Saint Francis of Assisi left us with good advice:
Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love,
Where there is injury, pardon,
Where there is doubt, faith,
Where there is despair, hope,
Where there is darkness, light,
Where there is sadness, joy
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much
Seek to be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
Pardoning that we are pardoned,
And dying to self that we are born unto Eternal life. Amen.
Fred Schaeffer, OFS, 2019
Secular Franciscan Order
Ordo Franciscanus Sæcularis
Divine Mercy Fraternity
Vero Beach, FL
Term expires: 2/10/2022
Fred Schaeffer, OFS
Helen Caldarone, OFS
Mary "Jean" McGovern, OFS
Jack Reddy, OFS
Donna Haro, OFS
Joanne Giordano, OFS
Fred Schaeffer, OFS
Five Franciscan Martyrs