From Enmity to Peace

By: Dylan Simon

Yesterday’s second reading in the Office of Readings (from St. Gregory of Nyssa’s Christian Perfection) highlights Christ as our peace, the one who put enmity to death.   The Oxford Dictionary defines enmity as "a state or feeling of active opposition or hostility."  St. Gregory discusses enmity socially and within a person. Enmity and division can also manifest within a family.

In family life, the enemy and our own fallen nature can tempt us towards enmity. We can be tempted to resentment and to bear grudges. St. Gregory cautions us: “We must not awaken that enmity,” that Christ, so gloriously, had slain.  

Enmity is easy to indulge in and it tempts the flesh away from the spirit. It tears the family apart just as the whip tears apart Christ’s body. The unity of husband and wife is the most important bond in a family.  In this union two become one and they must fight to maintain that unity.

Then, having become one instead of two, we shall have peace within ourselves
— St. Gregory of Nyssa

 

St. Gregory is speaking of a person divided against himself, but the same is true for husband and wife and the family. The family is not called to be bearers of enmity. Rather, the family is called to be bearers of Christ who is peace. Peace cannot be found in division. Therefore, husband and wife must be united. This unity in the family shall bring peace.

To become like Christ the family must become peace. This will remedy enmity and unite what was divided. But how does a family live this peace? It is by the cultivation of virtue. The family must become the place of virtue and holiness for peace to reign.In order to be fully alive, we must live as Christ lived. And in order for a family to be fully alive, we must create a culture within the family that also lives like Christ lives.