For a Christian, the peace and unity that comes from our willing service of Love toward all others, is the only joy worth pursuing. As his followers, Jesus is calling us to this peace and unity that comes from living lives of purpose and meaning.
Peace. Is this not the greatest desire of the human soul? As Christians, we know that a peace that “surpasses all understanding” is available to us from one source alone; God. Paul knows that it is Jesus Christ who brings this peace. He is the One who “guards our hearts and our minds.” (verse 7) It is he who calls us to live toward peace and unity.
Paul begins chapter 4 of Philippians with a set of instructions pertaining to how we should live in community. He points us toward things such as unity in the Church, which is revealed in a communal attitude of joy, and the practice of prayer that is rooted in an outlook on life that is centered on the love and the model of Jesus Christ. He writes: “Rejoice in the Lord always…Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all.” Why? Because, “The Lord is near.” This is why we can petition the Lord with confidence. He walks with us in all circumstances. He knows our needs. It is our friendship that he desires, nothing more. Nothing less. He is the reason why we can pray with thanksgiving. Because of the gentle, yet unconquerable love that Jesus demonstrated for us on the Cross, we know that our requests in our moments of need will be answered.
“The Lord is near.” For a believer, can there be any more comforting words than this? We know that the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, is here, right now, with each one of us. He is present within and without. He listens to our deepest yearnings in the secret depths of our own souls. He guides us in the core of our consciences, always towards that which is really good, really true, and really beautiful. He walks with us through this dark valley that is shadowed so much by sin and death. He is our rock and our staff. He is the source of our joy.
For a Christian, the peace and unity that comes from our willing service of Love toward all others, is the only joy worth pursuing. As his followers, Jesus is calling us to this peace and unity that comes from living lives of purpose and meaning. To bend our wills to this love is the way to begin to know that peace that our hearts most desire. How does this God-given gift of peace manifest itself? It begins to manifest itself when each one of us begins to let go of our selfish desires and begins to practice, “letting our gentleness be evident to all,” at all times, in all circumstances. Our gentleness must be sincere. If it is, it becomes a power that fosters and gives life to loving relationships. If God calls us to this peace and unity, he also gives us the graces both to desire it and to work toward it. In desiring it, we begin to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit that bring it about. Among these gifts is the virtue of gentleness. It arises from another gift, the gift of humility, and it is a powerful sign of our growing love for one another. We become more and more gentle the more we are able to see the face of Jesus in all others, especially those who are suffering. When we are finally able to see Jesus in the face of others, how else can we respond but with the gentleness that comes from love. As Christians, we are called to live in this peace and unity by loving one another as Jesus loves us. When we answer God’s call to Christian community in this fashion, God’s gift of joy is our reward, both here on earth and in the heavenly kingdom. This is the “joy that surpasses all understanding.”
Lord, help us in our daily struggle to “let our gentleness be evident to all.” You are the source of our peace, our unity and our joy. Give us the grace to be able to see you in the faces of all we come in contact with in our daily lives. We pray this in your name, Jesus. Amen!
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