Finding Peace in a Doubtful World

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“From each according to ability, to each according to need.”

This is from Karl Marx, Communism’s father.  Knowing this was his mantra, you’d think he’d have been a big fan of Christianity. Communism and Christianity were both founded on sharing wealth, after all. But their definitions of wealth would separate them forever. As Sunday’s first reading proves, the Acts of the Apostles represented wealth stored in the heart of God.

The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. … There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need. (Acts 4:32-35)

Marx called faith the “opiate of the masses, an ideological tool that legitimates and defends the interests of the dominant, wealthy classes.” It does so in part by “placating the poor and exploited classes,” he added. His students who assumed power throughout history mastered the art of exploitation by redefining placation, attacking the Church’s role as peacemaker and perfecting the dictator’s role as appeaser.

Marx’s followers proved that whenever power-hungry humans are involved, corruption sneaks in. Even Christ’s followers have found ways to live down from their Master’s ideals. But Marx—whether knowingly or unknowingly—must have feared those early Christians. He and his ilk tried to exorcise their holy spirit, imprison it, then popularize their own earthbound scheme to claim absolute power by using earthly goods as weapons rather than tools.

Thus, in several countries, power has overcome righteousness by planting fear among the masses. Christianity is dedicated to stunting that growth by begetting peacemakers who inspire courage—one believer a time.

“Whoever is begotten by God conquers the world,” John writes. “And the victory that conquers the world is our faith. Who indeed is the victor over the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 Jn 5:1-6)

Without such belief in the possibility of world peace, we subject ourselves to fear of the world’s dominance over us. That explains why the newly risen Jesus greeted his fearful disciples by wishing them peace—three times in Sunday’s gospel passage alone (Jn 20:19-31). John tells us they were behind locked doors out of fear of the people who killed their Master.

But Thomas wasn’t there to experience that peace with them. Maybe he was cowering in his own hiding place. But when he DID join the other disciples in THEIR hiding place, Jesus shed his grace on him too—and a bit of shame, due to Thomas’s fear-laced doubt:

“Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed,” he tells Thomas.

That reborn belief has brought peace to believers—despite the efforts of those who are fearful of losing worldly power and therefore deprive the faithful of that heavenly peace. The fact that faith survives in the least peaceful parts of our world testifies to a power our power-hungry world could never harvest by using fear as a sickle.

The peace of believing in something greater than ourselves yields an abundant harvest that we believers are called to share with others according to their need. And in this world of Doubting Thomases, that need is ALWAYS great.

–Tom Andel

One comment

  1. Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

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