It’s been said that on December 25, 1914, during the First World War, an “unofficial ceasefire” occurred. On that day, German and British soldiers put aside their differences, and for one day, one of the most reverent of days, peace ensued.
Perhaps you’ve heard the account of the “Christmas Truce.” The story is a remarkable account of camaraderie, in which greetings and well wishes were met with gift exchanges between adversaries. A good natured game of soccer between opposing sides even took place. It was truly an inspiring story of how amidst something as tumultuous as a world war, opposing sides put their differences aside and for one day stood together.
“Peace on Earth”, the noblest of wishes, and probably one of the most widely shared vision of all peoples. Certainly, we want this. Why would we not want a world without oppression, without violence, and above all, a world where our children are safe? It’s a very lofty and altruistic goal, for humanity. Perhaps the loftiest. But if so many people want peace, why don’t we have it?
What if tomorrow, a truce was issued throughout the world, and we went through the day, being positive and encouraging? What would a day like that be like? Perhaps social media posts would say things like “I’m sorry for all those hurting, I will pray for them,” or “I hope we can all find peace.” Perhaps we would be inclined to forgive that driver who cut us off us on our way to work, and pray that the driver makes it to wherever he or she is going safely. And in regard to political ideologies, something that divides us the most, we would all come together and pray for guidance for our leaders.
A Day of Peace
A day without anger, without fighting and without terror. What a wonderful day that would be. What if soldiers everywhere laid down their weapons and people came together and helped one another. What if leaders put aside their differences and really worked to make the world a truly better place? Is it really too impossible to imagine? Do we really believe that it is not possible? Why couldn’t it happen?
Perhaps rooted in the “Golden rule” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1789) is the recipe for our success, “Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them.” How can we translate this into our daily lives?
We can start by remembering that all transgressions are between the individual and God. We, therefore, are not the ones to judge others’ behavior. Having said that, it is not right for them to judge or make assumptions about us either. Our response to those whom we feel wrong us needs to be more respectful.
So, how does the “golden rule” apply? Well, it applies in that I need to be my own keeper. I am the one who answers for what I have done. The “Golden Rule” is an effective way for us all to remember what ought to be done in all instances.
I think that today, one of the most important aspects of our faith that we neglect to acknowledge is our own personal accountability. We are very quick to blame others for our misery without looking within ourselves.
Examine your conscience
When I go to Confession and do a thorough examination of conscience, I usually see where I have more to be sorry for than I thought. In most situations I know what I should do, but do I always do the right thing? And when I do the right thing, do I know why am I doing it?
Some truths of our faith as they pertain to us are: We are not the judges of those who do wrong; the right answer is not always apparent, and we are accountable for what we do. We cannot lose sight of the fact that we must treat all people with respect. It is not for “us” to be right.
The question we need to ask ourselves is not ‘what would Jesus do?’ The question should be ’what does Jesus want me to do?’ If I pursue an action with mal intent in my heart, I am in no way better than those who wrong me.
“Judgment Day” for me is a sobering expectation. What will that moment be like when I am face to face with God and He reminds me of the times that I did not welcome Him. “. . . whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Mt 25:40).
The Beatitudes (Mt 5:3-11) offer us a very clear list of things God wishes for us. When was the last time we read through them? Read them again.
Every once in a while, a sermon puts things in perspective for me. Today was such a day. At Mass today father made a very valid point during his sermon. He said the most important thing we as Catholics should do is give mercy. Mercy is what it is all about. God gives it to us freely, and in doing so, His expectation is that we pass it forward. Mercy levels the playing field. It disarms us and diffuses anger on both sides.
If I am focused on really hearing others, and feeling for them in a way that moves me toward compassion, then I am truly on the path toward true spirituality. However, if I let my own feelings, of anger or hostility, prevent me from doing so, then my problem is me. I need to examine my own conscience. This truly becomes a grey area when we feel wronged by a person or a group.
So here is where I am with this (and I hope you are too). Each day, I “check in” with myself before making that post, or chiming in with a co-worker about someone. I take stock in the fact that I am not always right. I stop myself before the knee-jerk reaction and adopt some humility.
It is not up to the government or up to the PC Police to guide my behavior. I know what is right, and I must act accordingly because I will answer for my actions at “my end of time.”