Peace with Justice for the whole Creation - The Faith we affirm - The Gospel of peace
28. On the basis of this faith we proclaim the Gospel of Peace. In the
New Testament, the Good News of the revelation of God to humanity and the
redemption through Jesus Christ are called the 'Gospel of Peace' (Eph.
6.15). Peace with God is the source of true and genuine peace among human
beings. Jesus Christ is the foundation of a restored communion among people.
What he told the disciples applies to us as well: 'Peace I leave you, my
peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you' (John 14.27).
29. The concept of peace (shalom) is central in the Old Testament. The
term shalom has a much richer meaning than we normally associate with peace.
It means harmony and wholeness and includes health and the achievement
of full personhood. It encompasses all dimensions of life - embracing personal
and family life as well as the realms of society both national and international.
It is more than the limited political security which today is often called
peace. Shalom rather points to that divine reality which embraces the gifts
of justice, peace and the integrity of creation in their mutual inter-relation.
For the prophet Isaiah, peace worthy of that name can only be with justice
and righteousness (Is. 9.7); and the future peaceful condition of the people
will be accompanied by the rejoicing and blossoming of the dry land and
the wilderness (Is. 35-1-2). It is therefore not surprising that shalom
is the term par excellence used to describe the messianic promises.
30. The fulfilment of these messianic promises has come through our
Saviour and Redeemer Jesus Christ who established the New and Eternal covenant
with humanity: He is our shalom. The covenant is God's initiative but it
presupposes two sides: God invites human beings to live in communion with
him and with one another. In his mercy, God allows us to be his partners
31. The God of Justice: We affirm that God the Creator, God the Liberator,
is at the same time the God of Justice. We are justified by the merciful
God in Jesus Christ and called to work for his justice. Throughout the
Old Testament the requirement of justice is consistently stressed. Its
dominant characteristic is the care and protection of the poor and the
stranger and the defence and promotion of their rights as well as its emphasis
on the concept and practice of sharing. The prophetic message of justice
is a call for the total transformation of unjust structures and patterns
of behaviour. Let us also remember that in continuity with the faith witnessed
to by the Old Testament, Jesus conceived of and lived his messianic vocation
as a mission of salvation for all, of the liberation of the poor, the suffering
and the oppressed. 'The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed
me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release
to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty
those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord' (Lk.
4.18-19, quoting Is 61.1-2). This liberation is initiated in present history
and perfectly fulfilled in the resurrection (1 Cor. 15.42-57). In the New
Testament the prophetic message of justice is recalled and extended in
the two beatitudes on justice (Mt 5.6, 5.10) and in the higher justice
of the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5.20).
32. The God of Peace and Reconciliation: Reconciliation with God is essential
to the Gospel of peace (Rom. 5,1). The Church is called to witness to God's
reconciliation. As Christ has brought reconciliation to us, we are to be messengers
of reconciliation in the world. 'For he is the peace between us, and has made
the two - Jews and pagans - into one and broken down the barrier which used
to keep them apart' (Eph. 2.14). The merciful love of God, who forgives sinful
human beings, is the basis of our love for friend and enemy alike. According
to the Gospel, the pursuit of peace involves struggle, suffering and active
resistance. True peace is always peace with justice. Peace and justice need
to be understood and interpreted in the light of each other. The insistence
of the prophets on justice warns us against surrendering to or compromising
with injustice, against the passivity which is cowardice, complicity or the
preservation of our own peace at the expense of others, especially the weak
who have no power and voice to defend their dignity and their rights. As Christians
we believe that true peace will be granted by walking with Christ, even though
we often shy away from following him to the end. His renunciation of violence
flows from that love which seeks even the enemy in order to transform him or
her and to overcome enmity as well as violence. This love is ready to suffer
in an active way. It exposes the unjust character of the act of violence, makes
accountable those who use violence and draws the enemy into a relationship of
peace (Mt 5, 38-48; Joh. 18,23). Jesus places the way of nonviolence under the
promise of a peaceful earth (Mt 5,5). Recognizing the problem of self-defence
and the duty of the state to protect its citizens, we are still confronted by
the life, teaching and example of Jesus Christ.
33. The God of Creation: Finally, we affirm that God the Creator upholds and
loves all his creatures. Therefore, they all have a fundamental right to life.
God the Creator has given humanity a special place within the creation: 'The
Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and care
for it' (Gen. 2.15; et. 4.1,28). We are to be stewards within God's world. Stewardship
is not ownership. God the Creator remains the sole owner, in the full sense
of the term, of the entire creation. As the psalmist puts it: 'The earth is
the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein:
for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers' (Ps.
24.1-2). To understand rightly the special role of human beings as the most
privileged creature among all, it is important to remember that the whole of
creation is ordered to the glory of God. This is the fundamental meaning of
the Sabbath day (Gen. 2.3). Not humanity but God is the beginning, the centre
and the culmination of all creation and history: 'I am the Alpha and the Omega,
who is and who was and who is to come, the Sovereign Lord of all' (Rev. 1.8).
34. So, we have to reconsider the prevailing ethics of recent centuries, which,
in contrast to the real meaning of the Word of God, allowed humanity to "dominate"
the creation for its own ends, when, on the contrary, humanity should act as
steward in service - service both of God and of the creation itself. Therefore,
humanity has to preserve and promote the integrity of creation in obedience
to God, for the good of future generations. As the true image of God and Lord
of Creation, Christ shows us the way to fulfil our mission of obedience to the
creative plan of God.