Tuesday of Fifth Week of Easter
Jesus offers his disciples, peace. Jesus offers us peace. “Not as the world gives do I give it to you.” (John 14:27) “Peace" not as the world gives. What exactly does that mean? What is the distinction between the peace Jesus offers, and the peace the world gives?
I’m thinking that the world’s “peace” is a peace people seek through other means, like believing I will have peace of mind if all the bills are paid and there’s extra money for savings. Or peace of mind that I believe will come with a certain job or certain house. Or peace of mind in my kids being safe, or in my being healthy or a particular weight or having a certain relationship. Or even the supposed peace of mind of shutting out the rest of the world or those not like myself. Is this the kind of “peace” the world tries to offer?
People get sick, loved ones die, money and secure jobs can come and go, what seem like lasting relationships don’t always last; accidents happen, there is violence within families and the world; our lives don’t usually turn out exactly the way we hoped or planned.
And this is where Jesus comes in —offering a lasting peace, an out-of-this-world kind of peace, often right in the midst of suffering, hardship, insecurity and brokenness.
Jesus told his disciples, “I am going away and I will come back to you.” He also reassured them, “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid,” before his violent death. We know, however, that at least some of the disciples were afraid after his death, locking themselves in the upper room together. It was the resurrected Jesus’ presence in their midst and gift of the Spirit that strengthened them and filled them with the peace beyond all understanding.
We also know from today’s first reading (Acts14: 19-28) that this did not mean smooth sailing from there on out — Paul is almost stoned to death and dragged out of the city, but this doesn’t stop him and the other disciples from continuing on with the mission they are on fire about filled with peace of Jesus. They go on encouraging and strengthening other disciples in their faith, spreading the Good News and how God is moving and working in and through them.
Where am I in all of this? Am I still locked in the upper room? Have I experienced the peace of Jesus amidst suffering and trials? Am I living in a way that spreads that peace to others? Am I encouraging other disciples to carry on in their faith and persevere?
We have the opportunity right here in Dayton this week to spread the message of peace and love in the face of hatred in a very concrete way. As a community of disciples, let us respond not as “the world” does with racism and exclusion, but with the inclusive, peace and love of the Risen One in our midst.