Peacefulness probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think about summer. But maybe that has more to do with your understanding of peace than it does with your understanding of the values of summer.
We usually associate peace with a lack of conflict or turbulence. And that’s true, as far as it goes. But the biblical view of peace is much richer. It begins with a lack of conflict, but it includes the consequences of those circumstances. When conflict and injustice are absent from a human community, that community is free to flourish. People can work and play without fear. This means they enjoy the blessings of prosperity and social harmony. All of those values are included in the biblical concept of peace.
In that sense, summer is a season of peace. It’s a time of growth and plenty, a time of bustling and joyful activity that fills life with gusto. That’s a vision we can all appreciate and pursue.
Summer teaches us that side of peace. It can also teach us about the joyful side of work. Working and building a personal life and a family life are privileges and joys. Having the freedom and opportunity to engage in that kind of work is a sign and fruit of peace, of a society that is well-ordered and well-protected.
Often we forget this side of work, its intrinsic dignity and value. We focus so much on finishing the job or on getting the paycheck that we lose our capacity to enjoy the actual process of working and building, a process we’re meant to enjoy. The feeling of interior satisfaction that comes at the end of a hard, honest day of work is a kind of peace within our reach in a special way during the ordinary days of summer, when the sun burns hot and the daylight lasts long.
We’ll never have perfect peace in this life—that’s reserved for heaven. But if we give God the place he should have in our hearts, we can grow in the peace he wants for us. Jesus told his apostles: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27).
To experience the “peace of God that surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7), we have to follow the teachings and example of the Prince of Peace, of Jesus himself.
Abridged and adapted from Summer Meditations by Fr. John Bartunek (Liguori Publications, © 2016).