"Let unity, the greatest good of all goods, be your preoccupation." - St. Ignatius of Antioch (Letter to St. Polycarp)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

To Guide our Feet into the Way of Peace

Today is the Feast day of St. Luke the Evangelist. St. Luke records the prophecy of the high priest Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist. Zacharias prophecies that John the Baptist will "go on before the Lord to prepare His ways", and "to guide our feet into the way of peace." (St. Luke 1:76,79)

In St. Luke 12:49-53, Jesus shows us that the way of peace is necessarily one that involves conflict with the world, a certain kind of conflict with those who reject and hate Christ, as I have discussed here. But the way of peace must bring peace and unity to and among and between all those who love Christ. In these last days, we lift our heads to prepare for Christ's return. The Bride makes herself ready for His second coming. And again we need our feet to be guided into the way of peace. For if we are separated into myriad schisms, how can we say that we are walking in the way of peace? Shouldn't the way of peace lead us to be at peace with each other, united in faith, practice and governance? Shouldn't the followers of the "Prince of Peace" be at peace with each other? Shouldn't the way of peace necessarily involve being reconciled to our brothers and sisters in Christ (St. Matthew 5:24)? At the very least, shouldn't the way of peace involve an unrelenting impassioned effort on our part to be reconciled to our brothers and sisters from whom we are separated by schism? Can he who makes no such effort say to himself rightly, "I am walking in the way of peace"? St. Peter tells that we "must seek peace and pursue it" (1 Peter 3:11) If we are men and women of peace, men and women walking in the way of peace, then shouldn't we be seeking and pursuing peace with those in the household of faith from whom we are estranged? An individualistic notion of peace would concern itself only with our personal relation to Christ, and would not include our relation to our brothers and sisters in Christ. But the writer to the Hebrews commands us to "pursue peace with all men" (Hebrews 12:14). So how much more ought we to be pursuing peace with those within the "household of faith"?

Is all this mere idealism? A confusion of the already and the not yet? The writers of Scripture do not tell us to wait until the eschaton to pursue peace. The command is for Today, because the way of peace into which our feet are to be guided is for Today. The fractured state of Christendom can become so ordinary and familiar to us that calls and efforts to restore and retrieve peace and unity seem idealistic, radical and even foolish. But that is only because we have grown so accustomed to the state of schism that it no longer seems evil to us. The unity of the early Christians was such that they "were together and had all things in common" (Acts 2:44). We have to recover an awareness of the unity and peace that Christ gave to the Church (St. John 14:27), and which He desires us to maintain and pursue in His Household and His Body, the Church. We know that a "house divided cannot stand". (St. Matthew 12:25; St. Mark 3:25; St. Luke 11:17) And is it not a cancerous condition when a body contains cells or groups of cells that pursue an end of their own making, and not the good and unity of the whole body? It seems to me that we need to be spreading the following word to all believers, including those with whom we are already in full communion: "Come, let us fervently pursue peace and reconciliation with those believers who are presently estranged from us. Let us not rest until this reconciliation is achieved and the schisms removed. The Prince of Peace is coming soon. Let us prepare ourselves by making peace with each other."

Lord Jesus, may we be made one, as you and the Father are one. Make us instruments of your peace. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As a Reformed Catholic, with strong Orthodox Tendencies, even I know that Patriarch Bartholomew is in error as a modernist and ecumenist. The RCC makes communion with the Pastor of Rome essential to the Church through apostolic succession of bishops with the Pope as head of the Church or the blasphemous title, Vicar of Christ. In the Orthodox Church, they, and I more and more, believe that where Christ is, there is the Church. Thus Catholic does not mean universal but perfect and complete with Christ alone as the head. Bishops do not have apostolic secession, particular Churches do. Thus, where ever the local church meets and celebrates the Eucharistic mystery, with the bishops, then there is the Church. And bishops of local churches meet together under the presidency of the Metropolitan. In all seriously, Patriarchates are not Churches but synods of local particular Churches.

Furthermore, Ecumenical theology teaches that the Orthodox Church is not perfect and completely the one holy catholic and apostolic Church which is an essential teaching of the Catholic Orthodox Church dogma. The recent Papal encycle defiantly makes thing clear, from their point of view, the essence of the Church is communion with Rome. The Ecumenical Patriarch is simply wrong.

In order for reunion to happen the Roman Catholic Church would have to discontinue their schism, renounce the filoque, denounce all juridical atonement theology, and finally, the "Patriarch of the West" must admit his primacy only over his Patriarchy. When he excommunicated the Eastern Churches he renounced his "primacy." That position is now held by the Patriarch of New Rome, even if he is in error. God will one day raise up a faithful Patriarch. Glory be to God for all things.