Book 3, Chapter 42: That Our Peace is not to be Placed in People
Chapter Focus: Friendships are important. We all have our “Band of Brothers” or Sisters. But friendships should never be so important as to displace the primacy of God. Thomas reminds us that friendships not based upon Christ are no friendship at all, and can even be destabilizing. Therefore we must commit our friends to God rather than relying on friendship for peace. Only Christ can offer us this peace. “My peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you (Jn 14:27).”
The second part of this meditation brings us into an examination of our closeness to God as we evaluate the closeness of our friendships. The closer we get to God, the less comfortable we become. The more clearly we see our inward selves, the easier it is to recognize our faults. As part of this inner reflection, we need to recognize that whatever good comes from us we emanate from God. We must not hinder the Holy Spirit. Like the Blessed Virgin Mary, we can only ask the Holy Spirit to make us “full of Grace” by emptying ourselves (Lk 1:28).
When we focus on creatures as creatures, we cannot see the face of Christ. We must look for Christ in our friends. And by conquering ourselves will we know ourselves as God knows us, better than any friend. Even attachments to the smallest or least created thing to act as a distraction if we love it more than we love God. For example, during Lent last year, I tried giving away my favorite jacket – the one with memories of youth and strength. It was difficult. But in surrendering that attachment to that jacket, I felt unburdened, like when I come out of Confession. Try it on for size.
Questions: Where does your peace rest??
Have you ever emptied yourself to allow the Holy Spirit to make you “Full of Grace?”
Chapter 42, In Short.
1. Relying on any one person for your peace makes you unstable and entangled.
2. You hinder the grace of God from coming to you when you attribute anything good to yourself.
The Text of Chapter 42: That Our Peace is not to be Placed in Men
The words of Christ: “My Child, if you rely on people for your peace or do so for your own gratification because you have a high opinion of that friend, you will be unstable and entangled. But if you commit yourself to the Truth that is eternal and everlasting, you will not grieve the loss or death of such a friend.
The love of your friends to ought to rest in Me alone, no matter who it is, or how dear that friend is to you in this life. People, whether they appear to you good or evil, should be loved for My sake. Your friendships have no strength or endurance without Me, because any love that is not united in Me is neither true nor pure.
Separate yourself from such human affections, so that as you place it in order of importance, you would choose to be without any companionship altogether. The nearer a disciple approaches God, the further earthly comfort recedes. The deeper a disciple descends into himself, and the viler he appears in his own estimation, and the higher that disciple ascends towards God.
2. “But when you attribute anything good to yourself, you hinder the grace of God from coming to you: the grace of the Holy Spirit always seeks a humble heart. If you could make yourself utterly nothing, and empty thyself of the love of every creature, then should it be My part to overflow into you with great grace.
“When you set your eyes upon creatures, the Face of the Creator is withdrawn from you. Learn in all things to conquer yourself for your Creator’s sake, then you will be able to attain divine knowledge. However small anything may be, if it is loved and overly valued, it holds us back from the highest good, and corrupts the soul.”