“The peacemakers are pronounced blessed, they namely who make peace first within their own hearts, then between brethren at variance. For what avails it to make peace between others, while in your own heart are wars of rebellious vices.” –From “Sermon in a Sentence: A Treasury of Quotations on the Spiritual Life; Vol. 5: St. Thomas Aquinas,” pg. 91. Selected and Arranged by John P. McClernon.
This is a wake-up call, for sure. Where must every virtue begin before we can help others achieve it? It must begin in our own hearts and take root there, blossoming and giving forth fruit in our own lives. Only then can we hope to share that fruit with others. Making peace in our hearts by giving virtue the victory over ‘rebellious vices’ is the first step towards blessedness, and it is absolutely necessary in order to make peace between our brethren.
We cannot hope to accomplish peace if we are still caught in the midst of a raging war. No; others must see the fruit of peace in our lives before they will listen to our admonitions. Otherwise, our efforts fail because they see reflected in us their own wars. They will say, “How can you speak of peace when you yourself are divided within yourself?” And if they do not see this in us, it only means more trouble, for even if we succeed in making peace between brethren, we have hidden our own divisions under a guise of peace. We have not done any good, but have added sin to sin, first by being a slave to vice, and then by pretending that we are not.
We must purify our hearts, mortifying our willful passions and submitting our wills to God, that He may implant His peace there, that peace which surpasses all understanding. On this Palm Sunday, where we remember the triumphal entry of Our Lord into Jerusalem, where the people greeted him with branches of olive and palm, let us ask Him to bring the true olive branch of His peace into our hearts, that we may have the victory over sin, especially habitual sin which causes our heart to harden under the pressure of so much warfare, of so many vices struggling to gain control of our hearts. Thus may we rise with purified hearts on this upcoming Easter Sunday, glorious and with the true peace of Christ in our hearts.