All violence begins in the human heart. All war has its root in inner violence. A person who is at war with himself will soon cause strife for those around him. Whether in families or nation against nation, inner violence needs an object for its outward expression. It only stands to reason.
Hearts on edge and troubled souls are fertile ground for jealousies, resentments, bitterness and grudges. Yes, all war has its origins in the human heart. Like angry false prophets who come in sheep's clothing but underneath are ravenous wolves (Matthew 7.15), warmongers are known by their bitter fruits.
"Peace! Peace!" they cried but peace is illusive because peace begins inside. Inside humanity is where real peace must reside.
A peaceful heart is where love, contentment, wisdom, generosity and kindness abide. Real peace is illusive for those who turn away from God and listen to the worldly messages that promote greed, unbridled sensuality and endless acquisition.
Greed only promotes more greed usually at the expense of weaker parties. Unbridled sensuality promotes insatiable desire and lust. The drive to acquire only clutters life. It does not achieve lasting satisfaction. The senses may be temporarily satisfied, but the soul lacks lasting contentment and real internal peace.
What is real peace? It is a divine order of the soul. Internal peace - in its most complete and sublime sense - comes from Christ.
Jesus told his disciples that after his resurrection and ascension into heaven, God would send them the Holy Spirit to teach them and remind them of the things that Jesus told them. Christ then said, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid" (John 14.26-27).
This promise that Jesus gave to his disciples extends to all who have encountered Christ and put their hope in him alone. I have experienced that peace, just as millions of other Christians have experienced it for more than 2,000 years. Christ is our peace.
It is possible for a person to have internal peace even when they are surrounded by violence, societal upheaval, poverty, sorrow or physical afflictions. The Apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians from a dank and dirty jail cell. He wrote about the "peace of God that surpasses all understanding" being available to those who prayerfully petition God in Christ Jesus.
Paul learned to be content in whatever situation he found himself, whether it was abundance or the humblest of circumstances. This was a direct result of Christ's presence within him.
We should be reassured by Paul's words and strive for the same; it is possible for all who trust in Christ and who surrender their lives to him. Detachment from the things of this world, placing every fear and concern with Christ, draws us ever nearer to him. He is the Prince of Peace.
When our lives draw to a close, peace with God is all that will matter. Only God's love and the truth of the cross, and how we have responded to them, will decide our eternal destiny. The things of this world will fade from view; all we acquired in life will be left behind. All that will remain is our peace or enmity with God.
The Church teaches that those who die in God's grace and friendship will live forever with Christ. That grace and friendship comes through faith in Jesus Christ and his sacrifice at Calvary. We will see God as he is. We will be in heaven (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1023-1029).
The catechism describes heaven as "the ultimate end fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness."
We have so much waiting for us. Be content with what you have and your station in life.
The temporal is temporary, the eternal is permanent. Our real home is heaven, not here.