The Gospel of Peace
By Gretchen Erlichman
“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace…” ~Romans 10:15
At first blush, the Proclamation of the Kingdom may seem to be a somewhat expansive mystery upon which to meditate. This assumption would be correct, as this particular mystery covers the entirety of Christ’s public ministry, but, even more so, the entirety of Christ’s humanity. The mystery of the Incarnation, itself, proclaims the Kingdom of God and beckons us to share in the light of the living Word. The very first words that Our Lord utters in the Gospel of Mark proclaim this very fact: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15) Although there is no exact historical timeline that aligns all four Gospels, this moment of proclamation in Mark’s Gospel was made at the very beginning of Christ’s public ministry in Galilee. Even before He performed many public miracles, by which word of Him spread far and wide, Christ proclaimed that the “kingdom of God is at hand,” that He, who is God, has come as ruler over all. Proclaiming this at such a moment during His ministry draws our attention to the consideration that His sovereignty in the Kingdom is not wholly defined by His wondrous miracles or His vibrant words, but that these things blossom from the act of love that is His humanity; that He is the ‘Word made flesh Who dwelt among us’ (cf. John 1:14) and it was in condescending to our humanity that Christ fully proclaims the Kingdom of God; it is in this act of love that He invites us to change ourselves and embrace His gospel of peace.
In the letter to the Romans, St. Paul proclaims the wondrous mission of living out Christ’s teachings and spreading the joyful news of His love: “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Rom. 10:15) St. Paul is referring to the very same gospel that Christ preached to His disciples. During His earthly life, Our Lord, as the second person of the Trinity, acted in the fullness of God, with the Holy Spirit and the Father, to proclaim this peace: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” (Luke 4:18-19) These words of Christ encapsulate the gospel of peace that was preached by His every thought, act, and spoken word. In mediating on the whole of Christ’s life, we come to see that He proclaimed His kingdom by simply living His Divine life here on earth. He lived to the fullest the greatest commandments that He preached: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” and “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:30-31) This is the fullness of the Christian life! It is in following Christ’s example that we are called to change ourselves and conform ourselves evermore to Christ in order to live out this gospel of peace. Particularly in the struggles that plague our world today, we are called to follow Christ’ example and go out as ‘sheep in the midst of wolves’ to proclaim the gospel of peace with our lives. (cf. Matt. 10:16) Therefore, let us go forth and share the good news of the Gospel; let us go forth and share the good news of Christ!
By Phillip Baker
“A clean heart create for me, God; renew within me a steadfast spirit” (Ps 51:12)
After His Baptism, St. Mark recounts that Jesus “came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: … ‘The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel’” (Mk 1:14-15). The word which we translate as “repent” in Greek is “metanoeite,” or “metanoia” – according to Merriam Webster, this means “a transformative change of heart” (Merriam-Webster.com). So when Our Lord calls us to repent, He does not call us to mend just our ways, but our whole way of being. He does not call us to mere ritual observance of the rules of the Old Covenant, but to a complete change of heart. He calls us to beat our breasts and, like a tax collector, say, “O God, be merciful to me, a sinner” (Lk 18:13). Our hearts of stone must break and must be turned back to our Father – as the Lord says through the prophet Malachi “return to Me, that I may return to you” (Mal 3:7).
For “the kingdom of God is at hand” but it “is not a matter of food and drink, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the holy Spirit” (Mk 1:15, Rom 14:17). What St. Paul means is that the Kingdom of God is not a matter of keeping ritual laws, but of having new hearts – of love of God and faith in the Son, which leads us to keep His commandments, for “whoever loves me will keep my word” (Jn 14:23). It is obedience that the Father wants, after the image of His son, who “though He was in the form of God did not regard equality with God something to be grasped” (Phil 2:6). This is a change from the decay of sin in our hearts which leads us to pride and disobedience, that we might wish to become “like gods” (Gn 3:5). Only in this way – by a complete change of heart and willing obedience to the Father’s Will – can we live as children of light.
We are often overwhelmed by the darkness of the world, but we cannot overcome it on our own. “Thoughts and prayers” are not enough to overcome the darkness. This is not because prayer is insufficient, but because our “thoughts,” no matter how well-intentioned, have no potency in themselves. Where do our thoughts take us but back into our own sinfulness? Our problem is not that we pray too often, but that we do not pray enough, for it is God alone Who, by His grace, can “create a clean heart for [us]” (Ps 51:12). “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted” (Lk 18:14). “So strengthen your drooping hands and weak knees;” “repent and believe in the Gospel” (Heb 12:12, Mk 1:15). Only in this way – through humbly coming to God through His Church and His sacraments – can the Kingdom of God be inaugurated in our hearts and we finally live as children of the light.
COME PRAY WITH US!
“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.” ~Matthew 18:20
Right now, more than ever, we called to come together as a Church to pray and to engage with the beautiful mysteries of our Catholic faith. As a response to this invitation, we are launching a weekly prayer and discussion group called Quarantine Conversations, which will follow the theme of the reflections of the Quarantine Contemplation series. Each week, we will meet on Friday evenings at 6:30pm CST/7:30pm EST to pray a decade of the Rosary followed by a short reflection and time for discussion. Please join us for all or part of these meetings, so that we may join our hearts in praise of our glorious Creator!
(After signing up, you will receive an email with more information about how to download Zoom and information about receiving weekly links to connect to the Quarantine Conversations.)
Hi! My name is Gretchen Erlichman, and I am an aspirant with the Dominican Nuns of the Monastery of Our Lady of Grace in North Guilford, Connecticut. I am a native of upstate New York, but I am currently residing in Silver Spring, Maryland. I am in my second 6-month fundraising period with the Labouré Society, in which I hope to mitigate my student loans and enter into religious formation. Watch My Video Read My Story Donate Contact
Hi! My name is Phillip Baker and I am an aspirant with the Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Joseph (Eastern Province). I am a native of Nashville, Tennessee, where I currently reside as I work to pay off student loan debt from my time at Syracuse University. This is my first 6-month class with the Labouré Society, and I anticipate entrance to religious life with the Friars this July.
Watch My Video Read My Story Donate Contact