In a press conference to announce his cancer was terminal and he would die by the end of the year, Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, the Archbishop of Chicago from 1982 until 1996, said to reporters that he was "at peace." Death was his friend and peace was a gift God had given him. In fact, a compilation of his reflections from the last three years of his life, which not only saw his battle with cancer, but also a false accusation of sexual abuse, was put together in a book titled "The Gift of Peace."
Yes, we can work for peace, but peace is ultimately a gift of God. God pours this serenity and recollection into our souls. We are able to trust that he is in control and he will bring all the works of our lives and of the world to fulfillment. We are not bothered or overcome by the anxieties of life, and thus are not inclined to fight. Only a relationship with God can give peace.
Just before his death Cardinal Bernardin was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award, by President Bill Clinton. "In a time of transition in his church, his community, his nation and the world," spoke the president "he has held fast to his mission to bring out the best in humanity and to bring people together...Without question, he is both a remarkable man of God and a man of the people."
When someone at the ceremony described Bernardin as luminous to Hillary Clinton, the First Lady responded, "Yes, yes, that is the word for him: luminous."
Everyone, regardless of their political and religious affiliation, recognized the gift of peace that Bernardin had received. May we too accept the gift the Lord wishes to give us.