Josemaría Escrivá Obras

Like every christian celebration, today's is one of peace. The palm branches, with their ancient symbolism, recall a scene of the book of Genesis: "After waiting seven more days, Noah again sent out the dove from the ark. In the evening, the dove came back to him and there was a new olive branch in its beak. So Noah realized that the waters were receding from, the earth." Today we remember that the alliance between God and his people is confirmed and established in Christ, for "he is our peace." In the liturgy of our holy catholic Church — which so wonderfully unites and sums up the old in the new — we read today the joyful words which remind us of how Jesus was greeted at his birth in Bethlehem: "The sons of the Hebrews, raising olive branches, went out to meet the Lord, crying out, Glory in high heaven." As he moved off, St Luke tells us, "people spread their cloaks in the road, and now, as he was approaching the downward slope of the Mount of Olives, the whole group of disciples joyfully began to praise God at the top of their voices for all the miracles they had seen. They cried out: Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord, peace in heaven and glory in the highest heaven."

Peace in heaven. But let's take a look at the earth. Why is there no peace in the world? That's right, there is no peace, only a certain appearance of peace: a balance created by fear and precarious compromises. There is no peace even in the Church. It is rent by tensions which tear the white robe of the Spouse of Christ. And there is no peace in many hearts which vainly strive to make up for their intranquility of soul by continuous activity, by seeking a thin satisfaction in things which do not fill them but only leave a bitter aftertaste of sorrow.

"The palm leaves," writes St Augustine, "symbolise homage, for they stand for victory. Our Lord is on the point of conquering by dying on the cross. Under the sign of the cross, he is about to triumph over the devil, the prince of death." Christ is our peace because he is the victor. He has won the victory because he has fought, in a hard struggle, against the accumulated evil of human hearts.

Christ, who is our peace, is also the way. If we seek peace we have to follow his footsteps. Peace is a consequence of war, of struggle, of the intimate ascetical struggle which each Christian must keep up against everything in his life which does not belong to God. He is called to overcome pride, sensuality, selfishness, superficiality and meanness of heart. It is useless to call for exterior calm if there is no calm in men's consciences, in the centre of their souls, for "from the heart come evil intentions: murder, adultery, fornication, theft, perjury, slander."

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