The universal destination of goods (see last week’s Note) doesn’t mean we should have
no personal possessions. Material possessions are necessary to us human beings because of our
bodily nature. Our soul needs the body in order to know, love, and act. Just as we have a right to
dominion over our own body and actions, we have a right to control and own some material
things (property) needed for our body and to help us carry out our mission in life.

The body needs food for nourishment, but other material objects are instruments that
extend our activity. We would have very few parishioners at St. Mary of the Angels if the
majority of our parishioners did not own automobiles: cars extend the range of motion of our
body. Material possessions can extend the range of good or of bad actions that we human beings
carry out. That is why private property is a natural right, although not absolute one because it may
conflict with the rights of others for the basics needed to live and fulfill life’s mission.

So, the universal destination of material things means that we must exercise our right of
our body and property in a way that contributes to the common good of all and that builds up our
common social life. Our rights must be exercised in ways that respect the rights of others (avoid
struggles and conflicts). The 7 th Commandment forbids theft, unjust wages, speculation on value
of goods and commodities to the detriment of others, forgery, tax evasion, fraud, vandalism,
usury, corruption, poor work, waste, wasting or polluting the environment, etc.

Governments must have dominion over community property while protecting the rights
of individuals and private associations to have dominion over private property for their private
good in service to the common good of all. Marxism: denies the right to private property (private
action), giving society complete control over one’s life.

The peacemaker prevents war by creating a situation of fairness and respect. Parents do
this within the family, by making sure that everyone has what they need and that older children
share their possessions (toys, clothes, food, etc.) with younger siblings. This is what all members
of society should do. Hoarding things for oneself only creates tensions, tempting others to steal.
We often see this in a family, as when one child hoards all the candy, the others look for ways to
get their share, even if the child had purchased his hoarded treasure from the store. A peacemaker
parent will often intervene to motivate the child to do the nobler thing by sharing his stash of
candy with the others.

In the family, when one child takes something from another, the peacemaker parent
encourages the taker to return what was taken while encouraging the other to forgive. Likewise,
the parent encourages older children to understand their younger sibling’s desire to play with their
toys, clothes, etc. and how sharing would build up good relationships. Often adult children will
fight over their parents’ inheritance, destroying relationships built over a lifetime. How sad to see
families torn apart with hatred for one another over such temporal gratuities. A good peacemaker
would put family relationships over any financial benefit he would hope to gain.

would put family relationships over any financial benefit he would hope to gain.
The same hatred can arise between nations. Let’s learn to “be at peace with one another”
(Mark 9:50) and to motivate one another to correct injustices we see without resentment by
sharing God’s gifts to us with those in need and in service to the common good, setting aside
personal interests for the good of the others, and for the whole. Peace occurs when all family
members are living for all the others: it is by giving ourselves that we truly find ourselves, as Pope
John Paul II loved to say.

Peacemakers respect the goods of others, fulfill promises and contracts made in justice,
repair injustices, restore stolen goods, respect creation and the environment, work with the goods
of the earth for the benefit of all. Finally peacemakers love the poor (and poor nations) as our
younger or feebler brothers and sisters, foster the common good of our society. “True
peacemakers, then, are those who love, defend and promote human life in all its dimensions,
personal, communitarian and transcendent. Life in its fullness is the height of peace. Anyone who
loves peace cannot tolerate attacks and crimes against life” (Pope Benedict XVI, Message for
World Peace Day 2013).