In light of today’s tensions and conflicts and the horrific shooting at TOPS last week, we hear Jesus tell his disciples in this weekend’s Gospel: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you, Not as the world gives do I give it to you.”
The peace that Jesus gives is far different than the kind that comes from the absence of war, conflict, or affliction. The peace that God offers is found alongside suffering and hardships, not necessarily in their absence.
In order for us to experience the divine peace that Jesus offers, we must allow God’s presence to settle into our souls. It is only when this happens that we can be truly taught by the Holy Spirit to discern the true path to peace and find ourselves with untroubled hearts.
Jesus’ peace begins in mutual respect for the dignity of every soul. Jesus’ peace is centered in humility and gratitude for the blessings of this life that God has given to us. Jesus’ peace compels advocacy for justice and mercy for the poor, the vulnerable, the abused, and the marginalized. Most important of all: Jesus’ peace cannot exist in passivity and avoidance. It must be worked at.
True and lasting peace is something that comes from within and not something we can produce on our own or receive from others. Peace is discovered when we experience an inner wholeness and harmony. It is born of a sense of connectedness with a God who is larger and greater than ourselves, gifting us with His presence. It is only the peace offered by the risen Christ that can settle our hearts and calm our fears. Regardless of the degree of turmoil around us, this sense of completeness that Jesus gives, anchors us and prevents us from sinking.
Jesus leaves us, his Church, the gift of his peace, true peace. Are we ready to do the hard work of realizing that gift?