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Father Muench Says...

Strive for peace in our hearts, our world

March 27, 2019

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Today, I would like to share with you a concern of mine. I would also like to convince you all to join me in this concern. I am concerned because there is too much violence in our world. Our world is filled with too much violence. There is too much violence in our own country. There’s violence in what people do to each other and in the way people often talk to each other.

I know, as you probably do, that I wonder just what I could do about the violence in this world, in this country, even in our church. However, I am deeply concerned. I want to do something. I really want to make a difference.
Personally, my life was truly changed when I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. It was then that I understood Jesus’ message of peace, of love and of non-violence. Following Jesus’ message that I learned in studying the Scriptures brought peace and a certain happiness to my life. Becoming a person of peace meant I must always eliminate violence from all that I do.

This time of Lent is a time each year for opening my heart and my mind to the Lord through prayer so that I could find his love and peace. So, I would like to share with you this message of Jesus that was in the daily Gospel readings during the first week of Lent. Jesus challenges us to remove violence from our hearts and lives – from all that we do.

These Gospel readings are a section of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. First, a reading that is familiar to you. This is Jesus’ comments concerning our Fifth Commandment. He says: “You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill; and whomever kills will be liable to the judgment.”

However, Jesus goes on: “But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to the judgment.” Anger leads to violence – sometimes with violent words, sometimes more. I believe here Jesus tells us to resist violence in every way as we resist anger.

Anger messes up many lives. I know I am at my worst when I become angry. I can be violent because of anger. I know that the only way I can eliminate anger will only happen when my life becomes filled with the life and the peace of the Holy Spirit. I believe that the Spirit protects me from giving in to anger and violence. Lenten prayer and sacrifices will bring that Spirit into my life.

The very next section of the Sermon on the Mount contains Jesus’ teaching on love of enemies. Jesus says: “You have heard that it was said, you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Jesus says this is the road to happiness.

To love enemies means I must be forgiving like Jesus. I must be a forgiving person because I want to be a good person. Some people may not deserve forgiveness, but I want to be a good person like Jesus, who forgave those who crucified him. I must be a forgiving person because I want peace in this world. Jesus teaches me, “Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

I would like to tell you that I am completely non-violent but I can’t. I know what it is like to be non-violent. I have seen it demonstrated by great leaders. At this moment, I think of Martin Luther King, Jr. He could well have reacted to his persecution with violence, but he did not. His cause was stronger because he did not.

I must learn that my efforts to live without anger, without violence gives a strong validation to my teaching of the message of Jesus. The only way I will demonstrate the power of the Church, the power of Jesus is to eliminate from my life all violence and anger. I am grateful to the Lord’s constant support that I can live in the Lord’s peace and love.

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