“Christ’s peace is not the simple absence of conflict.”

The following is an address given by Pope Benedict XVI on 19 August 2007, discussing Christ’s statement that he has come not to bring peace but division:

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

There is an expression of Jesus’ in this Sunday’s Gospel that always draws our attention and which needs to be properly understood. As he is on his way to Jerusalem, where death on the cross awaits him, Christ confides in his disciples: “Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.”

And he adds: “From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law” (Luke 12:51-53).

Whoever knows the least amount about the Gospel of Christ knows that it is the message of peace par excellence; Jesus himself, as St. Paul writes, “is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14); he died and rose from the dead to break down the wall of enmity and inaugurated the Kingdom of God, which is love, joy, and peace.

How, then, are we to explain these words of his? To what is the Lord referring when he says that he has come to bring — according to St. Luke’s redaction — “division,” or — according to St. Matthew’s — the “sword” (Matthew 10:34)?

Christ’s expression means the peace that he came to bring is not synonymous with the simple absence of conflict. On the contrary, the peace of Jesus is the fruit of a constant struggle against evil. The battle that Jesus has decided to fight is not against men or human powers but against the enemy of God and man, Satan.

Those who desire to resist this enemy, remaining faithful to God and the good, must necessarily deal with misunderstandings and sometimes very real persecution. Thus, those who intend to follow Jesus and commit themselves without compromises to the truth must know that they will face opposition and will become, despite themselves, a sign of division among persons, even within their own families.

Love of one’s parents is indeed a sacred commandment, but for it to be lived authentically it cannot be set in opposition to the love of God and Christ. In such a way, in the footsteps of the Lord Jesus, Christians must become “instruments of his peace,” according to the celebrated expression of St. Francis of Assisi. This is not an inconsistent and superficial peace but a real one, pursued with courage and tenacity in the daily commitment to defeat evil with good (cf. Romans 12:21), paying in person the price that this carries with it.

The Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace, shared the struggle of her son Jesus against the evil one, to the point of spiritual martyrdom, and she continues to share this struggle until the end of time. Let us invoke her maternal intercession, that she may help us always to be faithful witnesses to Christ’s peace, never giving in to compromises with evil.

(Translated by the Zenit news agency.)

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2 Responses

  1. Dear blogger,

    I happened to come to your pages because I got interested in the Bahá’í – Catholisism connection, as I have these two religions in my own life. In the other way around than you however: I was first a Catholic and became a Bahá’í.

    Luckily every-one is free, to chose the religion he or she thinks is the best or the truth. I have chosen the Bahá’í Faith because I recognised Bahá’u’lláh as the Messenger of God for our time. Besides this what I also think is great in the Bahá’í Faith is its respect for all other religions, coming from the knowledge that all these religions originate from the same source, God. I have never heard about a Bahá’í publicly criticise the faith he or she had before coming a Bahá’í.

    Bahá’u’lláh has clarified that all oppression against the Bahá’í Faith only leads to increasing the numbers of believers, as people get interested in its Teachings and discover its Truths.

    With respect for your choices and kind regards, Margo

  2. Hi, Margo. Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you’re interested in the Baha’i-Catholicism connection. I hope you continue to explore that. If nothing else, it’ll make you more effective in your efforts to teach Catholics the Baha’i Faith.

    Besides this what I also think is great in the Bahá’í Faith is its respect for all other religions

    I disagree. I do not think that Baha’is respect other religions, even though they insist (and think) that they do. I also believe that Baha’is distort the teachings of other religions. That’s why I write this blog, to promote the truth. You have to have access to the truth before you can independently investigate it.

    Bahá’u’lláh has clarified that all oppression against the Bahá’í Faith only leads to increasing the numbers of believers, as people get interested in its Teachings and discover its Truths.

    It’s fine by me if people discover the Baha’i Faith and investigate it. I am confident that the fair-minded seeker, if he investigates both Catholicism and the Baha’i Faith, will see the truth of the Catholic Church. We Christians have nothing to fear by calling attention to the Baha’i Faith.

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