Living internal peace amid tribulations

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Many of us want and desire internal peace. But how can we live peacefully when we feel that we are being treated unfairly? If not persecuted?

In one of the Novena days preceding the feast of Saint Ignatius of Loyola I came across a very interesting extract taken from his writings. When I read and reread it I really felt consoled. For that matter I am joyfully presenting it to you in this simple reflection for your esteemed consideration.

“If we desire to live in honour and to be esteemed by our neighbours, then we shall never be solidly rooted in God our Lord, and it will be impossible for us to remain undisturbed when insults come our way. If we find that we are without the patience to endure insults from others we, then, have greater reason to complain, not because of those who injure us, but because of our own sensuality and carnal inclinations, and because we are not as mortified or dead to the world as we should be. These people are offering us opportunities for gaining a treasure greater than anyone can win in this life, and riches more numerous than anyone can accumulate in this world” [Ep. 1:86-87].

This profound letter from Saint Ignatius made me reflect on the Gospel passage when Jesus, together with his disciples, initiated a journey with them through Galilee. On their way Jesus spoke plainly to them saying: “The Son of man will be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him; and when he is killed, after three days he will rise” (Mark 9:31). This binding teaching has it that the Son of the Living God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, had to suffer. The humble Messiah had to face a violent death on the cross. Thus, if anyone of us seriously wants to follow Jesus, he and she has to dance to the same music Jesus danced to.

In a homily given at Casa Santa Marta on May 16 2017 Pope Francis spoke on the inner peace that is not lost amid tribulations. The Holy Father said that the peace Jesus gives is not the one given by the world. Unfortunately the world tries to distract us from reality by presenting to us what Francis called “anesthetized peace”. In other words, that ‘peace’ which “prevent[s] us from seeing the Cross.” The Pope said that “the peace that the world offers us is a peace without tribulations. It offers us an artificial peace reduced to ‘tranquillity.’” He explained that such peace “is only concerned about one’s affairs and one’s security, lacking in nothing, […], a tranquillity that ‘shuts’ oneself without seeing beyond.” Hence, “the world teaches us the way to anesthetized peace: it anesthetizes us from seeing another reality of life: the Cross.”

In stark contrast to this erroneous way of living Pope Francis said that Saint Paul teaches us that one must enter into the Kingdom of Heaven on the road with many tribulations. Then Francis put forward the million-dollar question: “But is it possible to obtain peace amidst tribulation?” Then he clarified: “From our side, no; we are unable to make peace that is tranquillity, a psychological peace, our peace, because tribulations are there, whether pain, illness or death”. The Pope went on by saying that “the peace that Jesus gives is a gift: it is a gift of the Holy Spirit.” A peace of this sort lasts through tribulations and beyond and “cannot be bought.”

Towards the end Francis said that “without its crosses, [this peace is] not real.” Because the peace of God is “a gift that keeps us going.” Therefore, “God’s peace is real peace, that enters the reality of life, that does not deny life; that is life. There is suffering, there are the sick people, there are many bad things, there are wars … but that peace within, which is a gift, is not lost, but goes ahead bearing the Cross and suffering.” Let us not forget that “peace without the Cross, is not the peace of Jesus: it is a peace that can be bought. But it does not last; it comes to an end.”

Holy Spirit give me the grace of your inner peace amid my life tribulations I have to face daily. Amen.

Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap

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