Father Ed's Reflections

Stepping Stones

02 Aug 2016

It seems difficult to imagine a person who does not seek peace of heart in one way or another. Such a search is not easy and many paths may be taken before a person finds what is sought… Maybe the  teaching of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount may offer stepping stones for finding peace for oneself…and such a change may initiate social change in due time. It all begins with a relationship with the Lord of all.

How blest are the poor in spirit, the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

In effect this means each person accepts that all they are and all they have comes from God. Sheer gift that is acknowledged and accepted. Think deeply, then: I accept that all I am and all I have is gift from God to use for the benefit of all.  This sums up the initial teaching of Jesus; the challenge is to accept this reality and then we are on the way to peace of heart.

What follows is not only the teaching of Jesus but may be found in one way or another in the wisdom of deep thinkers from all ages. Such steps do require a decision to put them into action in daily life. Are you able to accept these challenges?

GENTLENESS
Am I gentle with myself? Accepting myself in all my richness and limitations. To the extent I am gentle with myself I am enabled to be gentle with others, and so an inner peace and peace with others is realized little by little.

COMPASSION
Evil of all kinds is around us day after day. Evil causes suffering to one or to many as the case may be. Am I moved to stand with the suffering and be moved to ease their pain? A person may feel inadequate, but to stand with the sufferer is a gift of compassion that brings comfort and peace to both the giver and receiver. It may offer only a glimmer of peace, but it has begun.

JUSTICE
In our own way this can be understood as fairness in all aspects of our lives. It takes effort and many decisions to be just and fair at home, at work and in all circumstances of life. It takes a conscious effort to be fair; inner peace and harmony can follow.

MERCY
Another word is forgiveness. This is indeed a challenge and entails a decision of the will to forgive hurt. We are in step with the Lord who never ceases to forgive us, when we overcome our emotions and choose to actively forgive those who have caused us pain. To forgive is a divine quality and brings peace to the one who forgives and peace to the one who has been the cause of pain.

INTEGRITY
A different way of saying pure of heart. This is very personal and surely calls us to be honest and true in all our dealings with others. People of integrity stand like rocks and bring peace to others by their very stance in life. They are dependable and a source of peace for others.

HARMONY
Here we mean peacemakers. Many have the gift of bringing unity where there is division, harmony where there is disharmony. Maybe this gift is elusive and many may feel they lack this gift. But all have the capacity to listen and in that way bring peace and a sense of inner peace to both parties.

COURAGE
Life is never easy and to embrace all the previous steps takes real courage and perseverance. It entails much suffering to the one who stands firm in spite of opposition and ridicule. In a word, one may well have to be a fool for the sake of Christ, as St. Paul says. No one likes suffering, and one may be assured if they live these stepping stones suffering will come. Greatness comes from standing firm, but we cannot do this by ourselves- it is only through the grace of the Lord who is ever present to us.

These stepping stones are called the BEATITUDES and appear in the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 5. They may bring us peace that is beyond expression and certainly engender peace in others; so from a small beginning changes in society may flow.  Jesus lived these, suffered indeed, but overcame all and calls us to COME, FOLLOW ME.

Father Edward Wood, SSS
Blessed Sacrament Congregation, St Francis' Church
326 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne,  3000, Australia
Tel:  (03) 9663 2495.     Email:  ewood@blessedsacrament.com.au