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May God Give You Peace
By Diane M. Houdek
Source: Bringing Home the Word
Published: Sunday, July 7, 2013
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I was looking for a small gift for a friend the other day and ended up browsing the Quotable line of magnets, mugs, and other items. I found a wonderful quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”

It came to mind as I was looking at the readings for this Sunday. We can be so focused on what we don’t have that we miss what we do have. We can be so consumed by what we haven’t done that we take for granted all that we have in fact accomplished. And always we hold on to grudges and resentments, sometimes not even realizing that we’re doing it. We spend far too much of our time criticizing, whether we’re pointing fingers at our own weakness or at other people’s failures. We are, in Emerson’s words, encumbered by old nonsense.

In the Gospel, Jesus sends his disciples out to spread the message of the kingdom. To do this well, they needed to be wholly committed to their task. And they needed to make sure that their focus was on spreading the Good News. This is why Jesus counsels them not to dwell on those who reject the message. The act of shaking the dust of unrepentant towns from their feet is less an act of rejection than it is a way of setting themselves free of destructive attitudes of revenge and retribution.

Just before today’s passage from Luke, we read that Jesus and his disciples were passing through a town in Samaria that rejected them. Luke tells us Jesus’s response was simply to go on to the next town. James and John, loyal followers that they were, wanted to call down fire on the townspeople. When the disciples return to him with stories of their success, it becomes clear that they are a bit intoxicated with their first taste of the power of God working through them. Jesus again says, “Do not rejoice that the powers are subject to you. Rejoice rather that your names are written in heaven.”

Power is always a danger among those who lead. If that power is not consciously turned toward doing good for others, the temptation to take out one’s frustrations, old hurts, and unhealed wounds on those who stand in opposition or are simply weaker can be difficult to overcome.

Pope Francis has been consistently preaching to the cardinals, bishops, and priests in Rome—and throughout the Church—to remain humble and guard against the urge to misuse power for their own advancement. Like Jesus with his disciples, he is reminding them to stay focused on the commitment to Christ and to God’s people that lies at the heart of every true vocation. This applies to us as well, whatever our state in life.

More than anything else, the message of the kingdom of God is one of peace. We are called to be at peace with God, with others, with ourselves. Jesus tells us, “Peace is my gift to you.” Like any gift, it is ours to receive. But in order to open our hands to God, we have to let go of the things of this world.

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Charles de Foucauld: Born into an aristocratic family in Strasbourg, France, Charles was orphaned at the age of six, raised by his devout grandfather, rejected the Catholic faith as a teenager and joined the French army. Inheriting a great deal of money from his grandfather, Charles went to Algeria with his regiment, but not without his mistress, Mimi. <br /><br />When he declined to give her up, he was dismissed from the army. Still in Algeria when he left Mimi, Charles reenlisted in the army. Refused permission to make a scientific exploration of nearby Morocco, he resigned from the service. With the help of a Jewish rabbi, Charles disguised himself as a Jew and in 1883 began a one-year exploration that he recorded in a book that was well received. <br /><br />Inspired by the Jews and Muslims whom he met, Charles resumed the practice of his Catholic faith when he returned to France in 1886. He joined a Trappist monastery in Ardeche, France, and later transferred to one in Akbes, Syria. Leaving the monastery in 1897, Charles worked as gardener and sacristan for the Poor Clare nuns in Nazareth and later in Jerusalem. In 1901 he returned to France and was ordained a priest. <br /><br />Later that year Charles journeyed to Beni-Abbes, Morocco, intending to found a monastic religious community in North Africa that offered hospitality to Christians, Muslims, Jews, or people with no religion. He lived a peaceful, hidden life but attracted no companions. <br /><br />A former army comrade invited him to live among the Tuareg people in Algeria. Charles learned their language enough to write a Tuareg-French and French-Tuareg dictionary, and to translate the Gospels into Tuareg. In 1905 he came to Tamanrasset, where he lived the rest of his life. A two-volume collection of Charles' Tuareg poetry was published after his death. <br /><br />In early 1909 he visited France and established an association of laypeople who pledged to live by the Gospels. His return to Tamanrasset was welcomed by the Tuareg. In 1915 Charles wrote to Louis Massignon: “The love of God, the love for one’s neighbor…All religion is found there…How to get to that point? Not in a day since it is perfection itself: it is the goal we must always aim for, which we must unceasingly try to reach and that we will only attain in heaven.”   <br /><br />The outbreak of World War I led to attacks on the French in Algeria. Seized in a raid by another tribe, Charles and two French soldiers coming to visit him were shot to death on December 1, 1916. <br />Five religious congregations, associations, and spiritual institutes (Little Brothers of Jesus, Little Sisters of the Sacred Heart, Little Sisters of Jesus, Little Brothers of the Gospel and Little Sisters of the Gospel) draw inspiration from the peaceful, largely hidden, yet hospitable life that characterized Charles. He was beatified on November 13, 2005. American Catholic Blog You know, O my God, I have never desired anything but to love you, and I am ambitious for no other glory.

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