VATICAN CITY, APRIL 20, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Jesus “made peace by destroying” hostility “in his own person,” according to the homilist at the Good Friday Commemoration of the Lord’s Passion in St. Peter’s Basilica.
In the context of a world in conflict, and commenting on the Apostle Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, Father Raniero Cantalamessa, the Papal Household preacher, noted the difference between peace achieved through arms, and the peace of Jesus Christ: “Destroying enmity, not the enemy; destroying it in himself, not in others!”
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. I do not give it to you as the world gives,” Father Cantalamessa quoted, in a homily delivered in the presence of John Paul II.
Jesus’ peace “is a peace ‘fruit of victories,’ but victories over himself and not over others; spiritual victories, not military ones,” the Capuchin noted.
“Jesus has taught us that there is nothing to kill for, but there is something to die for,” he continued. He said that the “Gospel way to peace makes sense not just in the private sphere of faith, but also in the political and social sphere.”
In fact, the present world order, in which each nation claims its own right to self-government, calls for following Christ’s “method,” according to whom “the only way to peace is by destroying enmity, not the enemy,” the preacher said.
Should “we destroy half the population of the world dissatisfied with the way things are? And how do we identify the enemy where terrorism is concerned?” he asked.
“Someone once took Abraham Lincoln to task for being too courteous to his enemies, and reminded him that his job as president was to destroy them,” Father Cantalamessa said. “Lincoln answered, ‘Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?'”
The world is facing a tremendous challenge, as enemies “are destroyed with armies, but enmity with dialogue,” Father Cantalamessa continued.
“Before putting it to the nations, the Church, led by the Pope, is setting out to apply this program in relations between religions,” he added.
The Capuchin suggested an immediate way to make peace: “we begin at once … [with] as little as a simple handshake.”
Just as “[m]illions of drops of dirty water will never make a clean ocean, [m]illions of people with no peace in their hearts, or of families without peace in their homes, will never make humankind at peace,” he warned.
What is indispensable, he recalled, is what John Paul II said in his 1984 message for the Day of Peace: “Peace is born from a new heart.”
“What sense would it make to march through the streets shouting ‘Peace!’ if you do it with a threatening fist and breaking windows as you go? […] What sense would it make if in your own home your voice is raised, your will is a tyranny imposed, building up walls of hostility or silence?” he asked.
The papal preacher ended by inviting the faithful to adore Christ crucified on Good Friday with a gesture of reconciliation toward others, so that our kiss will not be “only for him, our head, but also for his entire body,” our brothers.