(Prayer offered on the public address system at La Salle Academy on Friday, 20 September 2013)
Tomorrow, September 21st 2013 marks the United Nations day for peace, which is a day where the world community specifically focuses its energy on peace making. It also marks the beginning of the Lasallian Days for Peace, a month long observance for peace in our Lasallian ministries through prayer services, peace activities, education, and demonstrations. Our theme this year is “Peace is Possible.”
With that in mind, let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.
When I was pondering the theme of “Peace is possible,” I began to think about Jesus’ teaching on loving our enemies. It is one of his most extreme teachings and one that human beings struggle with the most. Our natural inclination to sin sometimes keeps us from recognizing the human dignity of the other person and therefore, we operate out of hate instead of out of love. When I looked up the word enemy in the dictionary, it had words like violence and hostility and war, which are correct, but I think in a high school setting, most of our enemies come in the form of students or teachers that are just different from you or me. Because we crave uniformity in our peer groups, we judge from afar instead of trying to get to know a person’s true heart.
Jesus mandates that we love our enemies and when I think about that teaching, I immediately think about my friend Stephanie. Wait, Ms. Naughton. Didn’t you say ENEMY? Good paying attention, kids. From an outside perspective at our friendship, Steph and I don’t seem to match up as friends. Let me explain.
Stephanie loves dresses and thinks that my clothing choices are a crime against humanity. She thinks my slacks and button downs should be thrown into a fire pit and burned and the “What Not To Wear” people should come to my house and do an intensive boot camp on fashion with me. In fact, she spends the month of May wearing a different dress or skirt for Our Lady. When she found out I thought Lululemon was an ice cream flavor, I believe she gave some thought to ending our friendship. My favorite pope is John XIII, hers is Benedict XVI. She has 4 siblings, I have one brother. She’s a vegetarian and lectures me about how corrupt the meat packing industry is and how I need to stop eating so many delicious steaks. We have spent at least 45 minutes arguing over who was more of a feminist: Sarah Palin or Ke$ha. I had Ke$ha in that argument, in case anyone was wondering. For my part, I have spent much time lecturing Steph on being nicer to her family, not being so uptight about everything, and that she is not actually always right about everything. The traits we do have in common aren’t things that normally bring women like us together. We are both extremely bossy, opinionated, and we like things done our way. People who know both of us are baffled at how close we are, especially when they see the way we carry on hugging and practically crying when we see each other again after she comes home from law school and I haven’t seen her in a while. She is by far one of my most favorite people. I love her with all of my heart and thank God every day that we are friends.
In truth, the reason our friendship is so strong and can sustain the amount of arguing we do is because of our ability to see past the superficial. We both see each other’s human dignity and that is all Jesus is asking us to do. He asks us to see past political party, religious affiliation, fashion sense, sexuality, hometown, extracurricular activity, etc. Underneath everything we identify with are just people who have so much in common, but we just have to take steps to realize it. It is then and only then that peace is possible.
Let us pray.
Come let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, that we may walk the paths of the Most High. And we shall beat our swords into ploughshares, and our spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation—neither shall they learn war any more. And none shall be afraid, for the mouth of the Lord of Hosts has spoken.
St. John Baptist de La Salle, Pray for Us!
Our Lady, Queen of Peace, Pray for Us!
Live Jesus in our Hearts Forever!
Margaret Naughton (Campus Minister and Young Lasallian Coordinator, La Salle Academy)