Experiencing real peace

Published April 18, 2021, 12:12 AM

by Fr. Rolando V. De La Rosa, OP


Fr. Rolando V. dela Rosa, O.P.

Many of us wrongly think that if we worked hard enough, and if we seized every opportunity that science and technology offer, we would have everything we want in life. This illusion breeds the modern psychological affliction called FOMO — fear of missing out. Even if we seem to have everything we want, we fear that we might have passed up on other good things we could have enjoyed.

Accepting the fact that we cannot have it all is a necessary condition for experiencing real peace. To get what you want, you should know what you must give up before you get it. Every choice entails a renunciation. We lose our peace of mind when werefuse to give up those things that do not fall within the ambit of our choice.

When a person insists on having it all, he develops a divided mind. We read in the Letter of St. James 1:8: “A double-minded person is unstable in his ways.” Jesus also declares: “No one can serve two masters; either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be loyal to one and despise the other” (Matthew 6:23). A divided mind breeds a divided heart. This is why the great debate of our time is over priorities which, as we know, are based on deeply entrenched values that are not often visible or understood but are always present.

The sad thing is, our contemporary society exalts self-interest as our top priority in life. Power, wealth, and fame are the supreme values that govern our conduct. But the tragic lives of many people who had all these, make us think twice.

Power, for instance, commands fear and obedience from others, but it also induces fear in those who wield it. Why do you think government leaders surround themselves with a horde of bodyguards? Why do powerful nations hoard weapons of mass destruction?

Fame can bring adulation and respect to a person. But many celebrities have committed suicide because of long periods of depression caused by their social isolation. They couldn’t go anywhere without being mobbed by fans or assaulted by paparazzi.

Wealth can make you feel secure, independent, and comfortable, but it hides rather than reveals your real identity. Notice how rich people disguise themselves so as to be unrecognizable in public.

St. Augustine writes that peace is “the tranquility of order.” We experience peace when we set our priorities right, when we decide based on real values, unafraid of the renunciation such decision entails.

In our Gospel reading today (Luke 24:35-48), Jesus greets his apostles with “Peace be with you.” It is a timely greeting because their lives are in shambles after He died.  Those who have pinned their hopes on Him are now plagued by doubts, disbelief, and despair, while the others cannot get over their guilt and shame for having made the wrong choice of deserting Christ during His most trying moments.

What the apostles experienced is what we feel when we reject Jesus by sinning. Sin is a bad or wrong choice that causes disorder in our lives. We are naturally inclined to what is good. But very often, the “good” does not always appear as such; and the “bad” has the cunning ability to resemble goodness. We choose to sin, not because it is evil, but because it appears to us as something seductively desirable and pleasurable. We rationalize our action by saying: “It cannot be a sin because it feels so right.”

Let us humbly request Jesus to put our lives in order, to help us make decisions based on authentic values and a right sense of priorities, and to stand by these decisions no matter what happens.