Promoting peace has been central to the mission of my religious congregation, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace from our very beginnings. Our original 1884 Constitutions tell us that we were founded “to promote the peace of the Church both by word and work. The very name Sisters of Peace will, it is hoped, inspire the desire of peace and a love for it.”
Promoting peace is also central to the mission of the Church. This has been true from the very beginnings of the Christian community. This morning as I was praying with the Scriptures in my morning prayer book, I ran across this quote from a homily by St. John Chrysostom (ca. 347-407), one of the early Church fathers and a Doctor of the Church:
So as far as a human being can, you must do what Christ the Son of God did, and become a promoter of peace both for yourself and for your neighbor. Christ calls the peacemaker a child of God. The only good deed he mentions as essential at the time of sacrifice is reconciliation with one’s brother or sister. This shows that of all the virtues the most important is love.
Sometimes, when I tell people that I am a Sister of St. Joseph of Peace, they ask if we are a new community. In conversation with these folks, this seems to be because we have a notion that concern for peace is something new. Hence, a community founded to promote peace must have been formed recently. And yet, as these words from an early Christian leader tell us, and truly as the example and peaceful witness of Jesus constantly remind us, peace is central to our mission as Christians.
This morning as I was praying with this reflection and the Scriptures, I found myself remembering a song from my childhood – Grease from the movie of the same title with John Travolta and Olivia Newton John. My sister Monica and I used to spend hours in our bedroom, hairbrush in hand, singing the lyrics along with our vinyl recording of the sound track (the G-rated version of course!). In prayer today, I playfully changed the words of the song, simply replacing the word “grease” with the word “peace.”
Why don’t they understand, it’s just a crying shame
Their lips are lying, only real is real
We stop the fight right now, we got to be what we feel
Peace is the word
Peace is the time, is the place, is the motion
Peace is the way we are feeling