Are you willing to love yourself as much as God loves you...?
by Tammy Townsend Denny, TI Executive Director
As we come to the end of this second week of Advent, I would like to invite you to pause and reflect on this excerpt from Pope Francis’ Prayer for Peace:
“Now, Lord, come to our aid! Grant us peace, teach us peace; guide our steps in the way of peace. Open our eyes and our hearts, and give us the courage to say: ‘Never again war!’; ‘With war everything is lost.’ Instill in our hearts the courage to take concrete steps to achieve peace. Lord, God of Abraham, God of the Prophets, God of Love, you created us and you call us to live as brothers and sisters. Give us the strength daily to be instruments of peace; enable us to see everyone who crosses our path as our brother or sister...” (The entire prayer is available here.)
When I read this prayer, my first thought is of the ongoing battles in Ukraine and the violence on so many of our city streets. My immediate urge is to find a place to donate or volunteer to support efforts for peace abroad and at home. But, when I sit with this prayer for a while and allow the words to penetrate my heart and mind, a different urgency emerges. I hear in this prayer a call for inner peace. Before I can help heal the division and hatred in the world, I must first, in the words of Pope Francis, banish from my heart my own division, my own hatred, and my own war.
This internal battle can take shape in different ways for different people. Maybe it is a battle with self-image or self-esteem. Maybe it is a war with addiction – your own or someone else’s. Maybe it is the division between what you dream of doing and what your body will allow you to do. Each of those inner battles can spill over into our daily interactions with others.
This Advent, are you willing to love yourself as much as God loves you, then extend that love to everyone who crosses your path? Are you willing to release your inner struggles and stresses so that you can smile at the grumpy store clerk, hold the door for a stranger, or invite someone to cut in line in front of you?
In the words of our patroness, St. Therese of Lisieux, “A word or a smile is often enough to put fresh life in a despondent soul.”
My prayer for you this Advent is that God grants you an inner light of peace that radiates throughout the world. Peace on earth begins with peace within.
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