by Father Mike Stubbs
In the play, “Peter Pan,” the main character by that same name urges the Darling children to think “lovely, wonderful thoughts.”
If they do that, he assures them, then they will be able to fly, with the aid of some magic dust. It’s a fairy tale, of course, but it contains a kernel of truth.
Sometimes there are thoughts which constantly run through our heads, so much so that we hardly notice them, as they stay in the background of our minds. But they influence our lives more than we often realize.
For example, if we are always beating ourselves up, telling ourselves that we will fail, then that most probably will happen. Conversely, if we think positive thoughts, they cannot help but have a good influence on us. Things will turn out much better for us.
All this may sound much like Norman Vincent Peale, the minister who wrote the book “The Power of Positive Thinking.” But he is not the first to advance such ideas. We hear something along those same lines in Sunday’s second reading, Phil 4:6-9:
“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
What can the Philippians expect if they follow St. Paul’s advice? “Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you.”
In other words, God is present wherever someone is thinking those ”lovely, wonderful thoughts.” St. Paul calls him “the God of peace,” since a feeling of peace fills the heart of anyone who is thinking those thoughts.
The wording “God of peace” inverts the phrase found earlier on in the reading: “Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
According to St. Paul, that peace will result from prayer, entrusting our concerns and needs to God, so that we don’t worry about them anymore. A feeling of peace will result from turning to God. Similarly, when a feeling of peace is present in our hearts, that indicates God’s presence, whether we identify it as such or not.
The peace of God, the God of peace, that is what we seek. We are grateful to St. Paul for pointing us in the right direction. We have only to follow his lead.