I would like to start things off with an important scripture. Hopefully, for my Catholic brethren, this will make the post hit home. To those of you who are not Roman Catholics, please pardon my exclusivity:

To all that are in Rome, beloved of G-d, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from G-d our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 1:7)

Peace is a common term liturgically and scripturally. Yet, perhaps it is too common. Don’t misread me, I do believe that it is providential and eternally necessary that peace is so commonly used. What I mean is, though it is to our benefit that the word “peace” is so commonly used amongst Jews and Christians, many of us need to be reminded why. In the Holy Scriptures alone, the word appears over 380 times from Genesis to Revelation. In liturgical prayers, especially in the Mass, it seems to be uttered almost every other word. Still, what is peace? Que Est Pacem? Is it world peace? Is it tranquility? Is it the absence of anxiety? Is it a good night’s sleep? Or is it something greater? Is it something divine and unparalleled to our own standards of peace?

This post on peace, though seemingly long, is a supplemental one. Peace (that is, Biblical peace), is way too broad to cover completely in one post. Even though it is relatively concise, this post should provide a restored framework for how we should perceive peace… if not, maybe it will compel you to seek a complete knowledge on your own. After all, we are all disciples. And what good is a disciple who does not seek to complete his knowledge?

Wiping off the Dust

In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread

Till you return to the ground,

For out of it you were taken;

For dust you are,

And to dust you shall return. (Genesis 3:19)

Therefore, just as through one man, sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—For until the law, sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. (Romans 5:12-14)

For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:22)

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)

Our new yet ancient perspective on peace is unearthed in these passages of scripture.  Peace was with us in the Garden. Peace was life. Peace was there while we walked with our Creator in the cool of the day. Peace was, and now is, alliance and unity with Almighty G-d. In Genesis, we see the ultimate effect of Adam and Eve’s sin, which is death. Because of his original sin and its curse, complete peace with G-d was taken from Adam, leaving his offspring death and stain, “death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam.” Yet, as we died according to one man’s sin, we now live according to one G-d-man’s sacrifice. Messiah’s sacrifice of peace left us a peace that is different from any worldly peace – His peace. Now, through this peace, we who were once dead are made alive again. This is why we are no longer called slaves to the Divine; we are called friends and qualified to one day become partakers in the divine nature because we are no longer at odds with our Master (John 15:15, 2 Peter 1:4).

Peace on Earth

Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; I will establish them and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary in their midst forevermore. (Ezekiel 37:26)

And suddenly there was with the angel a

multitude of the heavenly host praising G-d and saying:

“Glory to G-d in the highest,

And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:13-14)

Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth.

I did not come to bring peace but a sword. (Matthew 10:34)

The first two passages under this subheading coexist in a very fulfilling way. Yet, the third one does not. I will make an everlasting covenant of peace. On earth, peace. I did not come to bring peace on earth. Does this disqualify Jesus of Nazareth from being the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6-7)? No, it only disqualifies our preconceived idea of the peace that was promised through Him. There is an old Rabbinic saying about Messianic peace that says: One day, a disciple asked his Rabbi, “Rabbi, do we know if the Messiah is on earth yet?” The Rabbi walked over to the window, looked out, and said, “No, there is still war, Messiah has not yet come.” Christ brought with Him an everlasting covenant of peace established by G-d the Father, but he did not come to bring worldly peace. He came to bring peace to the world, from His heavenly kingdom. Though the heavenly host proclaimed, “and on earth peace,” they also proclaimed, “good will toward men”. If they had excluded the latter, it would be easy to presume that they were singing of a peace we are more familiar with; that is, world or political peace. Yet because the Angels said “good will toward men” from the Most High – Who they are messengers of, we can safely say that at this moment the Almighty issued His peace treaty between Heaven and Earth.

Peace Making

Blessed are the peacemakers,

For they shall be called sons of G-d. (Matthew 5:9)

If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. (Matthew 10:13)

Now that we know our Messiah did not come to bring peace on earth, but to provide peace between Heaven and Earth, these two passages can start to take on a deeper meaning. Lets examine the first one. By becoming peacemakers, we become sons of G-d. We become like THE Son of G-d; that heavenly ambassador, the Prince of Peace. In bringing the Gospel (the peace treaty from Heaven) to those who are on foreign soil because of Adam’s sin, we further our alliance with the Blessed One and His heavenly host.

Peace Offering

In ancient Israel, when there was a Tabernacle of Dwelling or a Temple in Jerusalem, one type of sacrifice performed was the peace offering. Sometimes prescribed as wave offerings, peace offerings were usually Terumot or in English, heave offerings. The Hebrew word Terumah does not translate directly as “heave offering,” its literal translation is actually closer to the word, “separation”. Heave offerings were different or separate from other sacrifices because they required the priests to literally heave or lift the sacrifice up in the air, rather than waving parts of it as the other sacrifices required. They were also considered tithes. In the scriptures, it is difficult to determine whether G-d was the guest at peace offerings, which was the norm for sacrifice, or if the Priests were considered guests of G-d, to Whom the sacrifice was being devoted. Many Rabbinic scholars believe that the peace sacrifice mentioned in Leviticus 7:11, 20, 21, 29 was not a sacrifice solely devoted to the L-rd, but a peace and amity (synonymous with “good will”) offering for the Priests and the people. In some cases, like in Ezekiel 45, the Peace Offering takes on a resolve for atonement. In other cases, it is a thank offering or an offering of first fruits. Additionally, as most of you well know, the edible offerings made by the Levitical Priests were part of a sacrificial meal after the ritual. Are you starting to see any parallels here?

Our Peace Offering came down from Heaven and was born of a Virgin by the power of the Holy Spirit. For our sake, he was heaved up – not by us, but by His own Priestly accord, and was sacrificed as an atoning gift of peace so that we may be reconciled back to His Father, Who is in Heaven. Now, in the sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist (in Greek “Eucharistia” or “thank offering”), we, as a kingdom of Priests, partake in His sacrificial meal, which is His body that was broken and His blood that was shed, so that we may be granted perpetuated peace with Heaven.

Family of Peace

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with G-d through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of G-d. (Romans 5:1-2)

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matthew 28:19-20)

For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to G-d in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.  And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. (Ephesians 2:14-18)

Our Baptism initiates us into a family of peace. Many do not realize that the practice of immersion in a baptismal pool is an Ancient Jewish tradition. It was, and still is, used to receive G-d fearing Gentiles into the family of Israel as converts to Judaism. When we are baptized as Christians, “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” we are received into the family of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. In this family, both Jew and Gentile are made into one regenerated people, infused with the grace of G-d’s Holy Spirit, born again without the curse of Adam’s sin, so that we may have unified access to the Father.

Concluding Thoughts

“Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,” says the L-RD. “Many nations shall be joined to the L-RD in that day, and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that the L-RD of hosts has sent Me to you. And the L-RD will take possession of Judah as His portion in the Holy Land, and will again choose Jerusalem. Be silent, all flesh, before the L-RD, for He is roused from His holy habitation!” (Zechariah 2:10-13)

These verses make up my favorite passage of scripture. They are part of the scriptural readings for the Jewish Feast of Dedication (Chanukah) and they describe the dramatic and glorious movement of G-d to redeem His people and the nations through the peace of His suffering servant. Now, what should we do with this renewed sense of peace? We pray. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Pray for the continued peace of the one holy Church. Wish peace on your fellow parishioners, in the fullness of true peace. And most of all, reconcile yourself to the Most High, for He has been roused from His Holy habitation.