Headline: The Crying Project of Peace

Posted on: 2016-01-14

Perfect peace

"We cry for peace, perfect peace. We long for peace in this neigbourhood... No water can put out this fire, only love can change our lives, we cry for peace, in this neighbourhood". Those thoughts come from Mr. Toots Hibbert, one of the greatest reggae singers of decades ago. The theme of peace has since been revisited by so many singers including the unforgettable British pop group of the 60s, The Beatles who sang the undying "All we are saying, give peace a chance".  The theme of peace is  not original to Toots, nor was it discovered in our time The history of mankind according to the Bible began peacefully and soon moved into a stage of "peace-lessness". Toots likened that stage of being to a fire, which no water, but only love can put out. He is right. Even Saint John Paul II once wrote: "If we wish to have true peace, we must give it a soul. The soul of peace is love". Peace is a favorite theme for all human beings. Man brought turmoil into the history of salvation and continues to perpetrate it, provoking and fuelling wars, conflict and disharmony. However even the biblical prophets predicted  the advent of peace at some point to be brought about by the word of Yahweh. The prophet Micah eloquently predicted this: " He will rule over the nations and settle disputes for may peoples. They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their swords into pruning hooks. nation will not raise sword against nation; neither will they train for war anymore. But each one will sit in peace and freedom under a fig tree or a vine of his own, for the mouth of Yahweh of hosts has spoken" (Mic. 4: 3-4)

Jesus is peace

Jesus Christ reiterated man's need for perfect peace because even at his own birth, he was named the Prince of Peace (Is. 9:5). It was about him even as the suffering servant that Isaiah prophesied (Isaiah 53 :7-11). Jesus pronounced commanding words of peace to his  disciples: "Blessed are the peace makers for they shall be called children of God" (Matt 5:9). After his resurrection he assured the disciples of his power  after his death when he appeared to them saying: "Peace be with you" (Jn. 21). At every Mass in the Catholic Church, a solemn period is dedicated to the expression of peace. At the call:
"Let us offer each other a sign of peace", people shake hands or embrace each other and say "The peace of Christ be with you". It is a reminder of what Christians ought to be committed to everyday.

The World Day of Peace

The Church celebrates the first day of every year as the World Day of Peace. Each year, the pope, addresses a particular theme in order to highlight the pursuit for peace among peoples. Pope Francis' message  for the year 2016 was entitled: "Overcome Indifference and Win Peace". In it, he wrote: "Indifference and lack of commitment constitute  a grave dereliction of the duty whereby each of us must work in accordance with our abilities and our role in society for the promotion of the common good, and in particular for peace, which is one of mankind's most precious goods" (N.4). From here it is derivable that peace is not a private good for only one person or a treasure for mere personal preservation.  It is an ingredient of the common good for the peace of one depends on the peace of another. That is a characteristic that makes us all the human beings we are meant to be. The pope therefore condemns a situation where people demonstrate lack of concern for what is happening around them, especially if it does not affect them directly, preferring not to ask questions or seek answers about others'  dis-ease. The pope concludes: "In these and in other situations, indifference leads to self-absorption and a lack of commitment. It thus contributes to the absence of peace with God, with our neighbour and with the environment" (N.3). 

A Cardinal Speaks

in his Christmas message entitled "Let the Mercy of God flow", the archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onayekan  also decries the indifference that denies mercy even to criminals who make restitution for the evil they have done. This rather un-Christian desire for vengeance betrays the need to overcome our indifference to the pain of others in our country especially during this ongoing Year of Mercy. He wrote: "Too much innocent blood is flowing all over the world. In the face of all this, we have somehow not only been tempted to lose our sense of outrage, but often even approved and hailed such excesses. Our world is full of atrocities. We surely need God's mercy". The Cardinal's message sits well with the theme of peace for wherever there is genuine concern for others and a disposition to mercy, there peace is bound to thrive. Pope Francis' declaration that peace is both God's gift and a human achievement, entrusted to all men and women who have to work to attain it, challenges us all. What have you done to contribute to  peace today? All children of God and especially Christians must enlist in the search for peace all over the world, ready to reach out of ourselves to the neighbours and the neighbouhood of our families, cities and country to wage peace against the numerous wars of violence and destruction all around. That is why it is generally agreed that peace is not made at the council tables or by treaties, but in the hearts of men and women. Peace is attainable and it is our only choice for the future of humanity.