Friday, June 30, 2006
Gaudium et Spes 77 finds us at the beginning of Section 2, Chapter V, "The Fostering of Peace and the Promotion of a Community of Nations."
Maybe in academic spheres, people still talk about a "community of nations," but I sense that economic and communication realities have made one world of us more rapidly than politics might have done--or would ever do. Since the time of this writing, the number of the world's sovereign nations have doubled, and perhaps there is still more splintering yet to come. At any rate, diving into the text, we find:
In our generation when (people) continue to be afflicted by acute hardships and anxieties arising from the ravages of war or the threat of it, the whole human family faces an hour of supreme crisis in its advance toward maturity. Moving gradually together and everywhere more conscious already of its unity, this family cannot accomplish its task of constructing for all (people) everywhere a world more genuinely human unless each person devotes (her or)himself to the cause of peace with renewed vigor. Thus it happens that the Gospel message, which is in harmony with the loftier strivings and aspirations of the human race, takes on a new luster in our day as it declares that the artisans of peace are blessed "because they will be called the children of God" (Matt. 5:9).
Consequently, as it points out the authentic and noble meaning of peace and condemns the frightfulness of war, the Council wishes passionately to summon Christians to cooperate, under the help of Christ the author of peace, with all (people) in securing among themselves a peace based on justice and love and in setting up the instruments of peace.
Clearly, the world continues along these lines today. Total nuclear destruction is no longer a consideration, but violence pecks away at nations large and small. Even the world's powers are not exempt from gadflies which poke at their way of life.
On the whole, Americans today are significantly safer than they were in the period of 1957-91, probably a bit less safe than 1991-2001. But the world and the Gospel aren't about the safety and security of a single nation.
The council bishops urge every believer to work for peace. So, what have we (in our relative security) done for it lately? Does anyone bother to fast and abstain on non-Lenten Fridays for peace? Or does the association with a liberal view make it too much of a bother? If peace has gone out of style as a movement, consider that Jesus valued it highly, linking those who seek it with those who are members of his family.