6th Sunday of Easter
John 14: 23-29
When Jesus’ gift of “a peace which the world cannot give” is contrasted with the fragility of the peace our modern world offers, the gulf between them is so vast that they themselves require a mediator to be reconciled. Jesus is that mediator between us and the Father, bringing all things to Himself when He is lifted up on the cross. Today He urges us to allow Him pacify our war-torn world and our war-torn hearts.
Consider the difference between Jesus’ saying “do not let your hearts be troubled” with the uneasy worldly peace which is often enforced with the threat of war. Consider the paradox of international peace keepers adorned with all sorts of artillery to keep peace. Consider also the current debate in America where gun laws are being debated with some arguing that people need to bear arms in order to feel protected. This is the sort of crazy peace we have become accustomed to. It is the sort of peace which is never really peace in the sense Jesus offers it because there is such distrust that everybody becomes an enemy. Rather than being at peace, we are more at war than ever because fear dominates. We end up warring with ourselves.
Thankfully there is some degree of peace in places like Northern Ireland today but peace is more than an absence of war. It is more than political institutions, important though they are. Saint Augustine holds that there can be no peace without justice. Justice too is undoubtedly linked with truth. In today’s Gospel the Truth Himself is offering us a share of that life-giving peace that is peace in the community of the Blessed Trinity. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit underpin Jesus’ depiction of true peace. Peace has to move beyond external frameworks to that inner in-dwelling of God in the depths of our being. “We shall come to him and make a home in him” Jesus assures us. Like a wolf parading in sheep’s clothing, failure to move beyond those external political structures to that internal union with God can offer nothing more than crippling fear masquerading as peace.
Saint John tells us that “God is love and in love there is no room for fear; perfect love drives out fear.” This is the basis for true peace. It is worrying how determined we seem to be to expel God from public discourse here in Ireland and in other post-Christian countries. The most optimistic public representatives, political lobby groups or states, if they are honest, cannot guarantee the real peace we crave no matter how God-like they think themselves to be. Jesus highlights the inability of this world to satisfy our inmost desires when He promises us a peace the world cannot give. He is urging us to broaden our perspective; to look beyond the superficiality of any peace based on fear and enforced by war by taking Him at His word. He is calling us to life in the Blessed Trinity. We ought to declare war then on those things that prevent us from loving Him and keeping His word because that peace in the Blessed Trinity is indeed the just war that is worth fighting.
Jesus replied: Anyone who loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him and make a home in him. Anyone who does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not my own: it is the word of the Father who sent me. I have said these things to you while still with you; but the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you. 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.
–John 14: 23-29