A synopsis of the homily delivered by Fr. Peter J. Krebs to reatrants on Jan. 20, 2015 where he shows how peace can begin with us through by transforming our interior life, and how the first two beatitudes can be stepping stones to this inner life.
When we speak of transformation we very often consider only the outer options of change, not the inner options, those which lead to a richer spiritual life. The challenge for us is to go deep inside ourselves; perhaps to even leave the safety of our known spiritual journey in which we are in control, and thus very comfortable with ourselves. D.H. Lawrence wrote these words about the resistance to change, “The world fears a new experience more than anything, because a new experience displaces so many old, long standing, experiences.”
In reality, it is the true inner experience we look for during transformation, an experience not an idea or concept. It is something that changes us, and we do not like change! Recall however, that Jesus ‘ teaching was never about ideas, about the dualistic thinking we are either right or wrong. No, it is an invitation to a new set of eyes, to see things differently, and I suggest, is the beginning of the notion that transformation revolves around the notion, “Let peace begin with me.”
As we transform into a deeper inner life, when we become more at one without God, our state of being can effectively change the way we relate to our fellow journeyers. However, it happens only after we are at home in ourselves, at peace. Peace begins with us when others find God through us and begin to acquire inner peace themselves.
Peace is more than an absence of war, violence or conflict! It is the presence of connection, mostly with our true and natural self, followed by the sense of being part of something larger, a connection with our God and God’s purposes. It is this connection that gives rise to serenity, balance, and a feeling of well-being. Peace is a path of unity with God and a partnership with the world.
Our quest for inner harmony is not something we should seek for ourselves alone. It is a gift to be given, to share with others. Why? Inner peace is one of the great blessings of life. If we are at home in ourselves, we will bring peace wherever we go. Unknowingly, we will make everyone feel at ease in our company; that our presence is a breath of God’s own peace!
Above all, peace is a way of being that brings us into unity with ourselves.
Bringing The Beatitudes into our Journey
We all grew up with the image of Jesus delivering the Beatitudes to a huge crowd of devoted followers. However, a different image emerges from Matthew’s gospel where Jesus withdraws from the crowd, and goes up to the mountain, leaving behind disappointed people waiting for his sermon. When Jesus is settled on the mount his disciples come to him, and here, in a poignant time of intimacy with his disciples he delivers his Sermon on the Beatitudes. As we consider our pathway to inner peace, it may be time for private intimacy between you and God. Whatever God may speak to you will not be a general message for all, but will come from Jesus’s most profound teachings. We are not standing on the fringes of the crowd; rather we are part of a small select group at the feet of Jesus so we can hear every word spoken in the privacy of our own heat, our inner life.
The beatitudes affirm a positive spiritual energy, and peacefulness in the presence of God. Jesus is instructing us about the spiritual potential in the Beatitudes. The first two Beatitudes reflect a longing for a deeper relationship with God, a deeper interior life.
Blessed are the Poor in Spirit! To be poor in spirit is to feel a dissatisfaction with life as it is, with a cultural focus on materialism. We become blessed when our cultural identity falls apart; when we join The poor in spirit. For it is then that we make the first step to developing a relationship with their God. A hunger develops for a deeper experience of an inner life; a nagging feeling that the material world alone is not enough. These are blessed people for they have entered the path to transformation, inner peace; they recognize a calling deep in their hearts; and they have begun to awaken from the illusion that material success is the only goal worth achieving and recognize a different call. This new sense of spiritual poverty represents the beginning of a great personal adventure from which there is no turning back.
That in itself can be a frightening experience since few people realize at the time exactly what is happening. That is why Jesus promises these people the “kingdom of heaven.” Once the spiritual journey is begun, its successful completion is assured. There is no chance of failure because God is seeking us more eagerly than we are seeking God.
So perhaps we should give thanks for any sense of dissatisfaction we may have in life that leaves us feeling “poor in spirit” for we are on a personal journey of discovery empowering us to experience our oneness with all that God is … God’s presence within us.