(This is a meditative note I presented before the students of St. Thomas Orthodox Theological Seminary, Nagpur after the evening prayer to commemorate the UN declared International Day of Peace.)
The 21st day of September was declared by UN as the day of peace in 1981.
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God". Mtt. 5:12 (9).
Jesus may have talked about peace with his understanding of the Hebrew word Shalom.
One of the early occurrences of the word in Jdg. 6:24 suggests that it is time of freedom from oppression or slavery. Gideon received the message of peace from the messenger.
'Lom is the basic root of the word which may mean 'paid'. So when it is paid for, there is shalom. When due is paid, there shall be peace. What is due to another is respect. Only when what is due to another is paid there will be peace.
This is a world of diversity. God created each according to its kind and set them in the garden or in the world.
Terry McGonial, a New Testament theologian, comments that, to have Shalom is to leave "the universe the way God designed it to be". A consumerist attitude was expressed in the garden, fear, breaking of relationships, rivalry and killing entered the world.
We understand that the situation prevailed in the garden was of mutual respect. There was a call to accept trees and fruits as they are and not as things "for me". This was violated or peace was broken. God had set things in proper order and in place.
Then we have the creation of human which is primarily related to God as human shared the image and likeness of God himself (Gn. 1:26-27). The animals were created and a different kind of relationship is established but not of ruling over rather for peaceful co-existence. In the second creation story God sees that to be alone is not good and decides to create a community among humans (Gn. 2:18).
God further establishes peace between human and the rest of the creation in the garden. The two words used are till and keep. Till to keep earth's productive and dynamism. To keep means to keep each one's identity and selfhood.
God always wanted to keep it that way. Human consumeristic tendency broke peace in the garden.
This dream of God was jeopardised by human. But continued His dream alive as reflected in the words of Isaiah 11:2 ff.
Jesus said, "I leave with you my peace" (John 14:27). He on His part established peace between God and humans and human and human. Paul talks at various occasions about peace. He says, Christ has broken down the dividing wall and has established peace (Eph 2:14). This peace is what He left for his disciples.
Peace doesn't come by itself once there was breach of peace by human. To bring in peace we need to walk back With Christ, the super model for our life, the road human travelled in the opposite direction.
For that, first we need to recognize that the world is of diverse nature. It was not created just for humans and not even humans of any particular region of tried or even gender. Any form of discrimination is to be abolished from our society. Each has a space in this world and has a role to play. No one is for another one to be a servant, but every one is for every one else.
Again do not listen to the commercial world that tries to sell their interest as in the case of the serpent. People of vested interest sell their products not for the benefit of the consumer, rather for the benefit of the seller. "God has provided everything we need but not for our greed" (Mahatma Gandhi)
Be ready to reply to that world which tries to sell things for their benefit not with over enthusiasm, rather with truth and justice.
Again do not be greedy. Human took the fruit of the forbidden tree not because they didn't have any thing else to eat for their hunger, but was for fancy.
We live in a world driven by greed. Every one says, it was greed that initiated 2008 global economic crisis. Greed for power, greed for wealth, greed for pleasure etc.
Further, don't be a greedy person but respect each other's need and respect each others' identity and diversity of creation.
The world has become a very difficult place for people to live in and so we need to pray with Saint Francis of Assisi saying, "Lord make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love"