Saturday, March 21, 2009

Ephesians 1:1f (end of verse one)

“ . . . grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."


The word used by the biblical writers means so much more than simply the absence of conflict. The Hebrew shalom carries the idea of safety, prosperity, tranquility, friendship with others -- and especially friendship with God in a covenant relationship.

The Greek eirene is similar, but carries an added meaning of the tranquil state of those who are assured of their salvation through Christ; therefore they ear nothing from God and are content with their earthly lot, whatever that might be.

Sounds a lot like St. Therese of Liseiux’s comment noted in the last lesson, doesn't it?

But being able to define a word is not quite the same as experiencing what the word means. I did a quick word-search for peace in both testaments, and this is some of what I found:

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You! (Isaiah 26:3 NLT); Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful (John 14:27 27).

But the passages that spoke most to me, especially in light of the question, HOW does one acquire God's peace, were here and here and here. And from this biblical direction, the answer to the puzzle is pretty straightforward: Our sense of God’s peace is directly related to our sense of being in His presence . . and that sense of being in His presence is tied to our commitment and perseverance in keeping our eyes and thoughts focused on Christ.

What is robbing your peace? Unemployment? Chronic illness? Divorce? Turn your eyes to Jesus (the link takes you to a YouTube music file). That advice is not a platitude. It’s a biblical comfort, a biblical prescription. The prophet Isaiah tells us, God shall be the stability of our times, a wealth of salvation, wisdom and knowledge. The fear of the Lord is our treasure (see Isaiah 33:6).

I'd like to share with you how I am learning to turn my eyes to Jesus in several ways through the day (those of you in our Monday night bible study can skim this paragraph. You’ve heard it before ;)

1. My wristwatch chimes every hour on the hour. When I hear it, I take a few seconds to turn my attention toward Jesus. I recite a quick memory verse, meditate on a scripture I've memorized, or say a short prayer.

2. When I see the color red, I take a moment – just a few seconds -- to thank God for the blood of Jesus, and that the precious blood of the Lamb of God took away my sins.

3. I placed a picture of a crucifix in my wallet. Every time I open my wallet, I see it, and my thoughts turn to the cross on which my savior died . . . and I give Him thanks.

4. I wear a crucifix around my next. When I absently touch my chest and feel the cross, or touch my neck and feel the chain, my thoughts turn once again to the Savior.

5. When I sit down to eat a meal, whether at home, on the job or out with friends, I bow my head and make the sign of the cross – once again turning my thoughts toward God.

None of these actions take more than a few seconds. But added together through the day they help increase my attention on Jesus and serve to teach me to lean ever closer into His arms.

Questions for Reflection:

St. Bernard of Clairvaux wrote:
The name of Jesus is more than light, it is also food . . . What other name can so enrich the man who meditates? What can equal its power to refresh the harassed senses, to buttress the virtues, to add vigor to good and upright habits, to foster chaste affections? . . . Write what you will, I shall not relish it unless it tells of Jesus. Talk or argue about what you will, I shall not relish it if you exclude the name of Jesus. Jesus to me is honey in the mouth, music in the ear, a song in the heart.

1. How might you apply St. Bernard’s statement to nudge yourself toward focusing more fully on Christ through your day?
2. Consider how you might make this prayer from St. Ignatius your own.

1 comment:

Jailer said...

Hi Rich -- I noticed your blog when I saw your comment on Bill's tribute to his dad. I look forward to following along!
In Christ,
Ray Powell