by Fr. Jonathan Hemmings


From the Desert Fathers: "Two old men had lived together for many years and they had never fought with one another. The first said to the other, Yet us have a fight like other men." The other replied do not know how to fight. "The first said to him, "Look, I wilI put a brick between us and I will say: it is mine; and you will reply: no it is mine; and so the fight will begin. " So they put a brick between them and the first said, "This brick is mine,' and the other said, No, it is mine, "And the first replied, "If it is yours, take it and go. So they gave it up without being able to find a cause for an argument.

In the vision of the prophet Micah 4:3-4 peace is more than the lack of fear, it is prosperity, owning ones own fig tree and beating swords into ploughshares. This active pursuit of peace and justice is expressed by Christ in the Beatitude: "Blessed are the peacemakers." Peace is not the absence of war; it is a gift of Christ and a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Because Christians are members of the Body of Christ there is no room for quarelling within the fellowship of Christ. True Peace springs from the all embracing love of God seen within the dynamic unity of the Holy Trinity. Though we are many we are one body renewed in Christ. St Paul in his letter to the Ephesians calls for faithful to "walk worthy of your calling with all lowliness and gentleness, bearing with one another in love." (Ephesians 4:1). Lowliness and gentleness are the hallmarks of Christ Himself and humility, from the Latin word humus meaning soil is the ground from which grows true peace. Peace brings communion with God and harmony with creation. From the desert fathers: "One of the brothers asked abba Isidore U priest of ce 'is, "Why are the demons. so terrified of you? 'And the old man said, "Ever since I became a monk I have tried never to let anger rise as lar as my mouth." When Christ examines the law of murder he looks beyond the act to the motive and passion that lies behind the deed. He tells us not to be angry. When we allow those offences against us to brood in our mind we are then tempted to give vent to our bitterness in words which spring from the evil one. Rather we should realise that when men persecute us and speak all kind of evil against us falsely-we are blessed. Indeed, we should leap with great joy because we tread the way of the saints and the martyrs. In this sense, suffering becomes creative. The spirit of man, illumined by the Will of God, refuses to separate itself from others even under the extreme suffering inflicted by the other-even when that person may hate us. Rather we must take upon ourselves the suffering of the other to maintain our communion with God. First, however, we must recognise the message from the devil and dismiss the thought at once from our consciousness; this will bring peace and stillness to the soul. We must avoid feeding on those deadly poisonous morsels of gossip. Such indulgence defiles our mouths that are meant for blessing God. Abba Joseph asked Abba Nisteros, "What should I do about my longue for I cannot control it? "]'he old man said to him, "When you speak do you find peace? 'We replied, "No". ]he old man said to him, If you do not find peace, why do you speak? silent, and when a conversation takes place, prefer to listen rather than to talk. " Words communicate who and what we are. If we are disciples of Christ then we must listen to the Word made flesh who is our Peace.


May 2000