May/June 2014
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God's Invitation to Wholeness

By Robert Jalbert, M.M.

In what has become known as Jesus' "Beatitudes," St. Matthew has him telling the crowds, "Happy are those who work for peace; they will be called God's children!" (Matthew 5:9) Jesus repeatedly in teachings and healings highlighted the importance of returning individuals to wholeness, either within themselves or with their communities of origin. Likewise, he was always mindful that his ministry in this world was to ultimately bring about peace and reconciliation between us and God. Jesus was a peacemaker and reconciler and calls us to be the same. 

 

He cautions us, however, that even as we strive for peace, our efforts may at times have the opposite effect. In Matthew's Gospel, Jesus also says to his apostles, "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the world. No, I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." (Matthew 10:34)

How are we to understand these two teachings, which appear to cancel out one another? The answer lies in looking at the very life of Jesus. He came to reveal God's love for all and to impart "a peace the world cannot give." He knew from experience that the revolutionary nature of his message would upset the status quo and would at times cause division, dissent and discord among his hearers. Yet he continued to lead people in the way of peace to his heavenly Father, healing their physical infirmities even as he forgave their sins. In welcoming disciples to carry on his ministry, he invites them to rearrange their priorities, going against what would come naturally for them in order to work for the good of others.

Like Jesus, his followers are called to persevere in working to restore individuals and communities to a wholeness and reality of peace and tranquility of body, mind and spirit that have been absent from their lives. This ministry of peace and reconciliation demands a deep reverence and respect for the dignity of all men and women as having been created in God's image and likeness. When society misunderstands and even counters the efforts of those disciples who uphold the dignity of all people, Jesus urges the disciples to carry on. And he prays for them: "Holy Father, keep those you have given me true to your name, so that they may be one like us." (John 17:11)

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