Word Magazine December 1979 Page 7-8


by athanasios bitar

“~ Hope for peace is the dream of every person. be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).

Today, more than ever before this yearning is Jesus praised those who make peace, not those

mounting in the hearts and minds of millions, who talk about it. “Blessed are the peacemakers: For

Modern communications keep us informed of every they shall be called the children of God” (Matt. 5:9).

turmoil or war in any part of the world. The wish for Peacemakers initiate peace and make it a reality.

peace is expressed more frequently during the Warmongers, instigate war and in the name of peace,

Christmas and New Year Season. This is because the justice and freedom, talk and strive for selfish in-

promise of peace was announced by the angel at the terests. The peacemakers are those who have peace

time when Jesus was born. “Glory to God in the within them and spread it about them. The Truth of

highest, peace on earth among men of good will.” Christ is not to be compromised out of fear. Christ’s

The Heavenly Peace is not for everyone, only for message requires the implementation of effort and

those who have good will. courage. It is in this sense that Jesus says; He has

Man has always sought peace. Centuries of wars come to bring a sword, not peace (Matt. 10:34).

have passed, and yet man has not learned how to War is a great tragedy. In all wars many innocent

achieve peace. Man searches for peace on his own people lose their lives for no purpose. Slaughter in

terms. Jesus distinguishes between two kinds of wars is justified as defense. To kill, to take a life,

peace: Peace of the world and Peace of God. Two which is a divine gift, except for this reason of

different kinds of peace. Each one is reached by security, is a great sin.

completely different means. St. Augustine describes peace as follows: “Peace

World peace is reached when no wars are is serenity of mind, tranquility of soul, simplicity of

launched among or within nations. A tangible peace heart, the bond of love. Peace takes away enmities,

may be obtained by treaty between two nations. restrains wars, holds back anger, calms those who

However, pieces of paper cannot guarantee the quarrel and reconciles~ those who are enemies.”

cessation of war or hostilities. As long as the evil There is a close connection between peace and

elements which provoke war remain in the hearts of justice. Often, the absence of justice brings turmoil

men, a peace treaty is easily violatea. War starts in and war. Modern history shows us that when a class

the heart before it is expressed as a conflict carried of society is in poverty and suffers deprivation, war

on by force of arms. World peace cannot be erupts, hopefully to restore equal justice for all.

achieved by external means. It has to be started on When a wealthy society has an inordinate love for

an inner individual basis. The spirit of man has to possessions, it uses political influence to promote

receive inspiration and strength from the great wars for economic benefit. Powerful nations invade

spiritual Source of Peace. The spirit of man remains weaker ones and take territories.

restless and inclined to commit many kinds of evil When a religion is misrepresented by its religious

deeds as long as his soul is not enlightened. leaders, fanatics initiate strife and civil wars to

God’s Peace is a state of mind experienced in the defend their beliefs. All kinds of blood baths and

depth of man. It is a state of harmony in the totality brutalities are justified as a means to defend the

of man’s life. St. Paul put it in this way: “To be “truth.” Religion becomes an instrument of war,

spiritually-minded is life and peace” (Rom. 8:6). The when involved in political schemes. It is not the will

sign of the divine presence of the Kingdom of God of God that we should suffer and have wars. We are

within man is “Peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” inclined to blame God for our difficulties. We are

(Rom. 14:17). ourselves, because of human weakness and un­

Man in a state of peace of mind is not negative. coverted hearts, the cause of sufferings. Our late

He is involved and cares for others. He is concerned, Patriarch Elias IV said: “Devoid ofTGod, everything

but he is not facing the world with anxiety. Jesus is dead. Devoid of God everything is nothingness,

Christ is called the Prince of Peace, because He gives selfishness, hatred, enmity, war, destruction, robbery

the inner heavenly peace which surpasses all un- and slaughter. This is the picture of the death which

derstanding to all who live according to the will of works within those who are bereft of the Lord.”

God. Whenever Jesus appears among His disciples A blind nationalism goaded by narrow religious

He says: “Peace be to you.” In fact the whole mission concepts provokes wars. Convinced by false pride

of Christ is to bring peace to the heart of man. that they are the chosen people or superior race the

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you, not as proponents of nationalism war against everyone to

~. the world gives, I give unto you. Let not your heart reach their goals.

Until man learns more about the reality of the

Father Athanasios Bitar is pastor of St. George Church in

Bridgeville, PA. (Continued on Page 8)

December, 1979 Page 7


(Continued from Page 7)

Fatherhood of God and Brotherhood of man, wars will remain a destructive force to the universal peace. Man has the spiritual capacity to direct his mind and heart toward living in God’s peace. This peace is not in a far-off place. God’s Spirit is every­where. We should be aware of His presence and closeness. Peaceful living comes from uniting man’s will with God’s will. God is ever willing to send the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, if we let Him. Thus, we become children of God, the Spirit of Christ working in us, adapting and adopting us to God. His peace becomes ours, that peace which transcends all / understanding.