“They will live secure, for from then on he will extend his power to the ends of the land. He himself will be peace.” (Micah 5:4)
“Peace be with you,” these were the first words of the Risen Christ to His apostles and now as we near the end of Easter season, the Risen Lord reminds us once again to claim this everlasting gift. However, even after more than two thousand years, this peace have appeared to be elusive for most of us. Nonetheless, I believe that it only appeared to be so, peace is not elusive, and it is us who have been elusive to His peace.
Yes, peace is a gift, freely available, but first a gift must be received. A peaceful city is first and foremost, a city of peacemakers. You cannot give what you do not have. Peace is a personal obligation prior to becoming a social reality. Peace is therefore a virtue, a virtue which the Gospel passage today instructs us to obtain. Peace is a spiritual fruit borne by love, love of Jesus Christ which primarily entails keeping His words. The Word of God was engraved in the heart of man, and we must keep it there, and the keeping of it is called conscience. This conscience fashioned according and oriented to the natural law of the love of God and neighbor is renewed by the example of Christ and maintained by the indwelling of the Advocate, the Holy Spirit promised to us.
The possession of a good conscience is the possession of the indwelling peace, the indwelling presence of God. A faithful conscience then is a perpetual Easter, an experience of the Risen Lord. Like charity, peace begins at home but it should not end there. For peace to transform into social achievement, we must learn to recognize the indwelling presence of God in our fellow men. We must recognize how the Holy Spirit acts through them against all biases of race, culture, prejudice and yes, even religion. In the First Reading, we saw how peace was achieved in the early Church despite differences of opinions, beliefs and culture. Peace was realized when they recognized the action and presence of the Holy Spirit in all the members of the Church, whether Gentile of Jew. Peace was achievable to us Christians now as it was then, and the presence of deep divisions and disagreements among us is one of the questions that we will all have to answer to when the Risen Lord comes back.
With all those things said, nonetheless, peace remains a project which cannot be achieved even by worldwide treaties or enforcement but rather by the gentle guiding grace of God. Peace is the goal which the Holy Spirit continues to teach us as we heed the lessons of history. The struggle for peace is a process of purification and healing in which we are made worthy of receiving it and keeping it. The vessel must first be worthy before the gift is bestowed. In the project of peace, after doing our part and teaching others to do theirs must come praying for peace. As the psalmist sings today: “May the nations be glad and exult because you rule the peoples in equity, the nations on earth you guide” and we respond: “O God, let all the nations praise you.” It reminds us that all nations will finally be united one day in the worship of God and world peace will be attained under His rule. The Second Reading paints for us the picture of the perfect and heavenly city coming down from heaven as if to emphasize once again that the peaceful earth will be achieved by God’s own hands. Moreover, upon closer examination, we will see that the essence of the heavenly city is not on its majesty but rather on the abiding presence of God. Thus, it drives home the point that it is the mere presence of God that makes any community like the heavenly Jerusalem. Indeed, one of the most beautiful name for the Eucharist is Holy Communion for it is truly the gift that must bring us into communion with one another.
The Lord has given and continually gives us His peace, His abiding presence. May the Holy Communion we receive bring the world together so that His peaceful reign may truly be with us all. May the Peace of God which passes all understanding keep our hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ Our Lord.
St Joseph, Dreamer and Worker of God’s will, pray for us that we may continue dreaming and working for God’s peace.
1st Reading: Acts 15:1-2.22-29
2nd Reading: Rv 21: 10-14.22-23
Gospel: Jn 14:23-29