THE COMMON GOOD AND PEACE IN SOCIETY
As I looked at this section to write my reflection– I thought it would be fairly easy to expound on. After all, Pope Francis lays this section out quite nicely by reminding us that peace is more than just an absence of war. He even pulls from a USCCB document; a document that I am familiar with, Forming Conscience for Faithful Citizenship. He even lays out his thoughts in four principles, which can guide the development of life in society. Then ‘Zing’ I read the first principle. Time is greater than space. Time? Space? Is this some kind of space time continuum from Star Trek or is the Pope talking quantum physics here? I check out the other topics: Unity prevails over conflict, Realities are more important than ideas, and The whole is greater than the part. It looks like I am in over my head! But guided by Pope Francis and the Holy Spirit, and with a little patience and prayer, the words take on meaning for me.
Let’s look a bit into each principle.
Time is greater than space – The pope says, “Giving priority to time means being concerned about initiating process rather than processing spaces.” This section seems to remind me that it is not the outcome that we should be so concerned with, it is the process. I was just sharing with a friend how one of the best vacations my family ever took was a complete disaster. We drove to Branson (sorry Branson fans) and everything possible went wrong. We all hated it, yet it is the one vacation that my kids always talk about. It wasn’t the destination or the trip, it was being with each other and sharing (and getting through) the experience.
Unity prevails over conflict – Well, Duh… Of course unity is better than conflict. Isn’t that what peace is all about. I am a Minnesotan; we live Minnesota nice and avoid conflict at all costs! But wait, the Pope has another zinger. The Pope says, “Conflict cannot be ignored or concealed. It has to be faced.” That throws out my Minnesota nice theory. If I am to be truthful, I know this already. If there is a problem, it never does any good to avoid it. The trick is to address the problem with love.
Realities are more important than ideas – The Pope says, “ Ideas disconnected from realities give rise to ineffectual forms of idealism and nominalism… What calls us to action are realities illuminated by reason.” This Blog is a great example of action. When Kelly got the idea for this blog, would it have merely stayed in theory – none of us would be reading (or writing) it. The idea spurred her into action, but these are still words on paper (or cyber space) and words need yet another action to make them flesh (John Chapter 1). That action is to live out what you learn and know.
The whole is greater than the part – Here is another zinger from the pope. In illustrating this principle he says, “Our model is not a sphere, which is no greater than its parts… Instead it is the polyhedron.” The polyWHATdron? Is this a geometry lesson now? According to Wikipedia a polyhedron is: "A solid in three dimensions with flat faces and straight edges." Ok, that didn’t help me much. I will call on a bit of wisdom that my daughter brought home from school when she was about 10 years old. She proudly stated “Mom. I am unique, just like everybody else.” We don’t lose our individuality when we seek the greater whole. God knows every part of us uniquely and individually. We can’t lose site of the individual when seeking the common good.
Peace be with you
In keeping with my reflection of realities greater than ideas, let’s take this idea to action. The next time you are at Mass and exchange the sign of peace – really think and pray about the person you exchange that handshake with. Each and every action we take builds common good and peace.
Peace be with you.
Sharon is a wife and mother of two college age children. She worked as a teacher, in advertising, radio, retail buyer and in youth advocacy – she even rode an elephant in the circus once! Currently she works as the Respect Life Coordinator for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. She is a freelance writer for the Catholic Spirit and writes regularly in her blog Food for Thought on “CatholicHotdish.com” She also does speaking on various pro-life topics and gives her personal testimony on her own healing experience in the talk Glorified Wounds. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.