The Peace of True Faith

John 14: 27-31a
Acts 14:19-28 / Ps 145:10-13,21

Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, a peace which the world cannot give, this is my gift to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.
(John 14:27)

Do not be troubled or afraid
If peace may seem so far away,
“This is the day the Lord has made”
His Holy Spirit’s here to stay.

Jesus said to his disciples: “Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, a peace which the world cannot give, this is my gift to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me say: I am going away and shall return. If you loved me you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you this now, before it happens, so that when it does happen you may believe. I shall not talk to you much longer, because the prince of this world is on his way. He has no power over me, but the world must recognize that I love the Father and that I act just as the Father has commanded me.” (John 14:27-31a)

Reflection

Shalom” or peace was a common word of salutation in old Palestine during the time of our Lord, and is still used as a formal greeting in modern Israel and most Arab states today. How ironic therefore that the Middle East has always been one of the most war-torn regions in the world in mankind’s history, and still remains a hotbed of ethnic conflicts even up to the present time. Perhaps this was the reason why our Lord Jesus, being omniscient, left this as a legacy for all His followers to keep when He said, “Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, a peace which the world cannot give, this is my gift to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” St. Paul and St. Peter followed His example by greeting all the recipients of their letters with the opening phrase, “grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Christ’s legacy of peace lives on. Our Church proclaims it every second of every day of every year in all the Eucharistic celebrations all over the world. Before Holy Communion, the celebrant prays, “Lord Jesus, You said to Your apostles, ‘I leave you peace, my peace I give to you.’ Look not on our sins, but on the faith of Your church, and grant us the peace and unity of Your kingdom where You live forever and ever. Amen.” Then he addresses the faithful, blessing them, “Peace be with you.” Then all of us in turn greet each other with a sign of peace.

Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” Jesus was in fact advising the apostles to be steadfast in their faith when in a few hours He would be taken from them by the temple guards to begin His passion and crucifixion. But speaking as He did to all generations, He is also telling us not to allow the vexations and trials of this world to erode our trust in God’s goodness, or our capacity to provide comfort, kindness and peace to others in need. It is the measure of our faith that we can still practice charity when we ourselves are hardly getting by. When we asked one of the sisters of the Missionaries of Charity why they were giving rice from their meager supply to the needy lining up at their door, she simply said, “Not to worry, God always provides.” When your rice stock is only good for tomorrow, and you have staff and so many malnourished children to feed, and you can still share the little that you have, that is pure faith! And sure enough, two sacks of rice arrived that day. The gift of peace only comes to those who have great faith in God’s providence.

In His will, Jesus left His disciples what they needed most to overcome their fears – peace. Obviously, this is the kind of peace that the world can never give. It is what St. Paul understood so well, “surpassing all human understanding, but guarding our hearts and minds in Jesus Christ” (Phil 4:7). This peace is the fruit of the Holy Spirit that comes with love, joy, understanding, patience, kindness, generosity and self-control (Gal 5:22). It is giving when our store is running out. It is being happy, grateful for being healthy and alive. It is keeping faith when we cannot understand. It is persevering when all the chips are down. It is forgiving when we are unfairly treated, trusting that our cause is in the hands of a higher Power. It is, after all, the Holy Spirit Who makes peace through us, whenever we share, forgive, and help in carrying the burden of others. It is those who are blessed with such a gift who are truly at peace, because they are God’s peacemakers.

Loving Father in heaven, the world is still suffering from the enmities, greed and prejudices of men, and true peace seems so hard to achieve. Help us, Lord, by the work of Your Holy Spirit to do our share in promoting peace in our homes, assemblies and workplaces, so that the love that Jesus showed us when He died on the cross will not have been in vain. Amen.

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