When something becomes a priority that means that it takes the first and highest place in your life. Priority indicates something that takes the first position in our decisions in life.
When we critically evaluate today’s gospel reading, we will observe that Jesus Christ wants us to take peace as the first decision we have to make in life especially when we are dealing with others.
The opposite of peace is strife. Both are two great forces that will either make or mar us. Whatever peace does, strife does the opposite.
The Gospel of Today.
In today’s gospel, Jesus makes some statements that show that peace in the life of every Christian is not negotiable.
First, Jesus says “If your virtue goes no deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven”.
To understand this, we have to note that the Pharisees and teachers of the law are always meticulous when it comes to keeping the law.
Their interest is to make sure that laws are followed to the letters despite their hypocrisy.
So, what Jesus is telling His disciples here is to be perfect. It is not imitating the Pharisees by living a hypocritic life, but exceeding them in making sure that our virtuous lives are true and real. Therefore, our virtuous lives must come from the heart.
Here, Jesus anticipates that His disciples should seek perfection when it comes to their relationship with God and their fellow human beings.
So, when you call yourself a child of God, living in peace is no longer an option but a sine qua non. It is what would be expected of you as a Christian.
Secondly, Jesus says ‘You have heard how it was said that You must not kill, and if anyone does kill he must be answerable for it before the court. But I say this to you: anyone who is angry with his brother will answer for it before the court; if a man calls his brother “Fool” he will answer for it before the Sanhedrin, and if a man calls him “Traitor” he will answer for it in hell fire”
Here, Jesus upholds the law against murder but goes beyond that to other factors that may lead to murder, like anger, insults, injurious words, hatred etc.
What Jesus is saying is that these factors which are the foundation roots of murder must be avoided. So, it is not only avoiding murder, but avoiding anything that could lead to it and any form of it.
Hence, these factors, which could eventually lead to more problems in the future must be avoided at all cost by any follower of Jesus.
Sincerely, if every family, relationships, communities, organizations, individuals, can keep to these, there will certainly be harmony and progress. In Christianity, peace should be the watchword.
The Weapon of Strife.
Strife means conflicts, bitter disagreements, quarrelling, family discord, sometimes characterized with anger, hatred, and internal frictions between people who are once close to each other. This is the opposite of peace.
Strife is a highly destructive force that the devil uses to create confusion, bitterness and turmoil in our relationships, lives and organizations.
Strife can tear apart marriages, put relationships on hold, destroy businesses, plunge people into depression and divide lifelong friends.
Every day, the devil puts in our paths things that will take us away from God and one of the weapons He uses is the weapon of strife.
God does not dwell where there is no peace. Otherwise, when Jesus appeared to the disciples after the resurrection, He would have blamed them and cursed them for denying him and running away during the time of His persecution. He did not do that but simply tells them “peace be with you (John 20:21). Therefore, God wants us to make peace a priority.
As I was saying, We all have things that happen to us daily. Sometimes these things can infuriate us and cause great injury to our relationships but the key is to not let them make us act rude or angry.
Instead, Jesus encourages us to make peace a priority in the midst of these. Therefore, let us not give the enemy a foothold. To make it our priority is the guiding principle.
The Weapon of Peace.
Peace is a very powerful weapon, but often and always neglected. It is a weapon cherished by God but hated and dreaded by the devil.
To make peace a priority is what God wants, but the world seeks strife. These continue to destroy us and create mayhem.
Always make peace a priority. This is a word that looks weaker than war but very mighty and heals more than war itself. Peace destroys the presence of the enemy without any warring weapon. But war, though using weapons, creates more disaster and opportunities for revenge.
The devil fears where there is peace and can never function there. The devil may give you anything, but can never give you peace. This virtue is divine. It is priceless.
The first gift that God gives when He comes close to you is peace. The first gift of Jesus to His apostles after the resurrection is peace.
Without this weapon, it is always hard for a family, group, parish, community, you, etc to function properly. Where there is peace, progress and prosperity are ensured.
This is a weapon hated by the world and dejected by many. They want it through wars, court cases etc still after that no peace truly exists.
Secondly, Adversity can never defeat anyone who remains calm when life throws its darts at him. It is the only weapon in the midst of a storm.
Peace is the food of the soul, the nursery bed for miracles, the secret of every powerful prayer. The soul that prays and remains calm, believing that His prayers must come to pass is always rewarded. The Weapon of Peace is priceless.
Then the question is “Why do we choose to hate?” Why do we prefer to be jealous and wicked and work negatively behind the scenes? Why do we remain far from God?
The answer is that peace is where God dwells but we neglect to work with it.
If you want the devil to run away from you, family, relationship etc, make peace a priority. Make peace with God also and be calm even in difficult situations. Then, make peace with your brother, sister, father, mother, friends etc.
A man of Peace is a man of faith, he is simple but powerful. Christ lives in Him. In peace you find God, Elijah found God in the gentle breeze.
Let us seek peace, pursue peace and live peacefully. Let us stop looking for faults everywhere; whatever you look for, you will surely find them. Forgive and forget.
Praying with a disordered heart is like cultivating in the bush. Free yourself from grudges and move on. The Weapon of Peace is priceless.
Peace is very Important.
To show how important making peace a priority should be. Jesus gives an example with someone who is bringing His offering to the altar but has something against someone.
Jesus says that whoever is bringing His offering to the altar and there remembers that his/her brother has something against him, must leave his offering at the altar and go back and make peace with the brother before presenting his offering”.
When someone comes to the altar to offer His gifts, He believes that He is giving His gifts to God. Then this means that before you offer whatever to God, make peace a priority, reconcile with the people who have wronged you, and forgive their injuries.
Samuel asks Saul in 1 Samuel 15:22 “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obedience to His voice? Behold, obedience is better than sacrifice, and attentiveness is better than the fat of rams”.
Therefore what this means is that to obey Jesus and make peace with the people that have wronged us and those we have wronged is more important to God than whatever we think we sacrifice to Him.
The sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God is broken spirit and contrite heart (Psalm 51:17) and not the heart that is full of grudges, envy, hatred, disunity and strife. Always make peace a priority.
Always refuse to heed to insult, argue or fight. Refuse to be sarcastic or disrespectful.
Always decide that keeping peace should be the watchword in our homes, marriages and relationships and your life, even if it means we have to swallow our pride.
Make peace a priority in your day to day dealings with people. Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” You can be that peacemaker. You can be the one to create that atmosphere of harmony in your family and organizations.
God only dwells where there is peace. The bible says “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” (James 3:16). Therefore, make peace a priority today.
May God give you the grace to live in peace. May His lovely presence be with you today in all that you do Amen.