Abel’s murder by Cain reveals, “Man has become the enemy of his fellow man (CCC, 2259). ” How true is this today! When we look at social problems such as abortion, artificial birth control, physician-assisted suicide/euthanasia, nuclear arms, unjustifiable aggression, and violence, all of these issues reveal the utter lack of respect men have toward their neighbor.
It’s interesting from a biblical anthropological view of how sin has entered into the world and totally disrupted the relational aspect of human relationships. Think back to the first ten chapters of Genesis, so much evil had happened. So much in fact, that God caused a flood to purge the earth of its evil. Sin has caused a rupture in the solidarity of mankind. You would think since we all descend from the same ancestor, there would be unity but on the contrary, we’re far from being unified.
On a more practical level, we abuse others by taking advantage of them, abusing their self-worth, treating them like property rather than with dignity. Failing to cherish their worth, we see past the imprimatur of God and immediately go to the carnal. Thankfully, through the cross, Christ thwarts the evil plan of sin by making all things new. The Baptism we have is enabling our heart to be made open to the sanctifying grace of God. Christ has given us the Spirit of God, the “Lord, the giver of life” to dwell within us to make us more like Christ day by day.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can practice love. In fact, Christ calls us to obey the commandment of love. He says others will know we’re his by the love we show (John 13:35). How much better is it to practice love than it is to let the sun go down on our anger? As a result, we have to do a better job at being peacemakers rather than dividers.
What does peace look like? Jesus said it best “Leave your gift there before the altar and go; first, be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. (Mat 5:24)” Christ urged us to put away religious activity for the sake of appearing righteous and embrace reconciliation through peace. It’s when we put aside our personal hang-ups and frustrations that we can truly be made right with our neighbor.
It’s no wonder why in the Mass, we’re called to extend the sign of peace to our neighbor. Before we partake in Holy Communion, we must be reconciled to those around us. Perhaps the person we hug, kiss, or shake hands with is a sinner of the worst kind, but yet in the mystical Body of Christ, that one person’s sin can have a larger impact on the larger system. Therefore, we come gathered at the Mass to extend a sign of God’s love to mend broken relationships in the Body.
Today, my students informed me that their circle had minor small issues with some of its members. The two that spoke to me weren’t aggressors of the conflict but saw themselves as neutral. I heard their worries and fears about them breaking away, but I urged the two neutral students to strive for peace and be the voice of reason between the strife amongst their friends. By them doing so, they would have the possibility of preserving friendships instead of them dismantling.
Friends, how easy is it to extend the sign of peace daily rather than feeding into the division of sin? Instead, let us be better workers of preserving and establishing reconciliation!