St. Theodore the Studite: Sermon on Peace
May 3, 2008
St. Theodore the Studite, Sermo XI (Dominica prima): Doctrina de pace (from Sermons of the Small Catechesis). Translated from the Greek text in A. Mai and J. Cozza-Luzi, eds., Nova Patrum Bibliotheca, tomus IX (Rome 1888), pp. 26-28.
Brothers and fathers:
Sunday is the day of peace. For in it the Lord, having despoiled the mongerings of war, said to his disciples: “Peace be unto you” (Jn 20:19). And in saying this, he did not proclaim peace to them alone, and only on that day, but to all and always he announces this same peace — just as he does even to us, in our lowliness. Therefore let us have peace, and be, in ourselves, peacemakers — on the one hand, according to the outer man, having that peace which harbors no enmity towards any of the brethren, but is lovingly disposed towards everyone: for, he says, “by this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35); and, on the other hand, also with respect to the inner man, so that we may live in peace and quiet from destructive passions. For thus we may say with the Apostle, “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom also we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we may boast in hope of the glory of God” (Rom 5:2).
But since we are of a mutable nature, and since it happens that grievous storms and distempers take place in us — for, at such times, it comes about quite suddenly — let us hasten to return to our former state, having peace with God. For “he himself is our peace, who has made one thing out of both, and has broken down the middle wall of partition, having abolished in his own flesh the enmity, the law of commandments in dogmas, so that he might, in himself, refashion the two into a single new man, creating peace, and might reconcile us both to God in a single body, having slain the enmity in himself through the cross” (Eph 2:14-16). These things the Apostle says. And this is the work which the Lord has finished, as he says to his own Father: “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do” (Jn 17:4) — that is to say, I have made peace between things on earth and things in heaven, while he has made us, by being in him, to be sons of peace and of love.
But if someone says: How is it possible for us not to be always at war, since the Apostle says, “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against authorities, against the global powers of the darkness of this era, against spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places” (Eph 6:12)? To that we may say: Because this was in order to indicate of what kind and how great the war is; it was not to indicate that war should be our way of life. For he says elsewhere: “Casting down logismoi (ratiocinations) and every high thing lifted up against the knowledge of God, and leading away captive every concept into the obedience of Christ, and having a readiness to avenge every disobedience” (2 Cor 10:5-6). But, when someone is of such a disposition, it is clear that he has subdued warfare and practices peace.
And let me not somehow appear a burden to you, my brethren, when I say such things, and when I busy myself with things of this kind and scrutinize and investigate this and that; for this is not unprofitable, but altogether serviceable, in that speech paves a way towards action. And let other people, as many as are worldly, speak about things of the world, about agriculture, about commerce, about gain, about loss, about other vain preoccupations. But as for us, what else should we speak about (if we must say something), if not about the soul, about deliverance from passions, about being parted from the body, about the coming of Christ’s tribunal, about judgment, about retribution, about the very kingdom of heaven? Of that kingdom may we be the inheritors, by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. For to him is due glory and power, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.