Eph 2:14 For he is our peace, he who made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his flesh,
15 abolishing the law with its commandments and legal claims, that he might create in himself one new person in place of the two, thus establishing peace,
16 and might reconcile both with God, in one body, through the Cross, putting that enmity to death by it.
Paul is speaking here of that enmity dividing the Jew from the Gentile – the division broken and the enmity healed by His holy Cross. This supernatural, powerful reorientation in the hearts of believers comes to my mind these days as we witness clash after clash of adversaries. Human experience defines itself in terms of adversaries. The human drama reduces itself to a binary struggle between two human groups.
Reformers in Egypt in the streets and the squares, protest the dictatorship of the now-former president; protestors now in many nations in the Middle East, demand democratic freedom or perhaps sharia law; protestors in the streets of Greece and of England loot and break windows to oppose government budget cuts. Even in the popular adversarial games we in America choose for entertainment, one side battles the other side, my side battles their side, at the Superbowl or the World Series or whatever pinnacle the sport in question labels as the ultimate confrontation. In politics, class warfare becomes the language of the game and we play it; the culture war gives us another arena, and again men are from Mars and women, Venus. Here and there and everywhere, men divide themselves into two sides and thus the real war is reduced, simplified, transferred and avoided.
There is an enemy of souls – an enemy of human souls, and he is not human but is a spirit: the evil spirit, satan. Jesus reveals this to us on the Cross, showing us that our common enemy has made casualties of us all indiscriminately. The evil hand penetrated the human soul and he left a wound that makes us enemies of one another, and thus he has made us enemies of our very selves. We find no peace with anyone, because we are not at peace within ourselves. A war rages and it is not external only, but it begins within and it ends nowhere and not ever except at the Cross. Only at the Cross will we find peace, interior and exterior. Only at the Cross will we find social justice, and human rights, and freedom and victory. Only at the Cross by way of deep, radical, transforming repentance and conversion will we find healing and peace.
If the problem was solved 2000 years ago, why does it persist? We in the Church ought to ask ourselves that question, maybe as part of a regular Examination of Conscience before Confession. Vatican II reminded us that we are all called to holiness and to the perfection of charity: how the transforming light of Christ would radiate in and illuminate this dark world, if we would hear that call to holiness and take it seriously! Holiness and holy love – divine love, agape love, charity – ought to define the Church! Instead so many of us limp from Sunday to Sunday in mediocrity, hardly distinguishable from the lost and the confused around us. Have we ever stood under His Cross, and had His precious blood drip into our cold hearts to enkindle and enflame them? Has His sweat fallen upon our lukewarm works to ennoble them? Where is the fire of Truth that Christ entrusted to His Church – why does it remain so safely buried, while the world remains untouched, unchanged and crying in need?