The words we hear in today’s Gospel (John 14.23-29) resonate across the years and are just as practical for us today as they were for Jesus’ disciples; “Peace leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” There is such security in these words.
But what is peace? OR another way I like to look at it is, WHO is this peace? Because peace isn’t merely the absence of conflict, but rather, the presence of love! Peace IS God’s love, the Holy Spirit, in us. [What does the human heart seek, but the deep joy of knowing that we are loved unconditionally, the opportunity to love fully in return, the certainty that our lives have meaning, and the inspiration of having a mission with eternal consequences.]*
God has, through His son, shown his love for us. By his death on the cross Jesus entered into our sin and was raised up, and now must return to the Father, so that His Spirit may dwell with us, as we hear in the Scriptures today, to guide us and “to teach [us] everything and remind [us] of all that [Christ] has said.”
We can trust him, who is Lord, who knows what is going to happen. He is in control and watching out for us. He cares deeply, and absolutely, about us hence this discourse with his apostles that we are reflecting on today. But we must claim this ‘peace’ and make it our own by turning to the Lord, by remaining with Him.
We see this in action by the early Church in the first reading today, from the Acts of the Apostles. The early apostles are encouraging the people of the Church, as they seek to heed the instruction and the prompting of the Holy Spirit, to not be burdened by cultural practices but rather to seek the essential meaning and purpose of Christ’s teachings. In this way they would not be burdened by what they had ‘to do’, but instead live out of the freedom, and PEACE, of knowing whose they were.
So as we reflect today on this peace which Christ gives to us, let us remember that the same Spirit which guided the early Church is still alive today guiding our hearts towards God and His love for us, and towards our eternal home. Let us rest secure in Jesus’ words, “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not let them be afraid.” “Peace I leave with you.”
In closing I would like to share a song with you. Songs have a way of simplifying a message in a beautiful way and I thought this one expressed beautifully our reflection today!
Acts 15. 1-2, 22-29
Revelation 21. 10-14, 22-23
John 14. 23-29
*Paraphrased from “the Better Part” by John Bartunek, pg 941