Easter 6th Sunday – PEACE: PASSING OR LASTING?
Easter 6th Sunday
Acts 15: 1-2, 22-29 Rev. 21: 10-14, 22-23 Jn. 14: 23-29
PEACE: PASSING OR LASTING?
Real peace is possible not by absence of problems, but by presence of God in our lives.
In the liturgical calendar we have various seasons with their unique stress and focus. The Advent is the season of preparation. Christmas is the season of celebration. Lent is the season of repentance. In this line, it can be said that Easter is the season of gifts. We see the Risen Jesus offering various gifts such as joy (Lk. 24: 41), courage (Mt. 28: 10), power of healing and exorcism (Mk. 16: 17, 18), authority to preach the Good News (Mk. 16: 13), the Holy Spirit (Jn. 20: 22), and power to forgive (Jn. 20: 23). One such gift is peace. We see the Risen Jesus uttering “Peace be with you” to those to whom he appeared (Jn. 20: 19, 21; Lk. 24: 36). In the gospel today, Jesus speaks of two types of peace: peace the world offers and peace of his own peace.
Peace, offered by the World:
Quite many of us have got a wrong understanding of peace. If we ask a person, “When will you be peaceful in your life?,” the immediate and invariable answer would be “When I have no more problem in my life.” For many, problem-less-ness is the state of peace. We seem to think that there is no much of peace and tranquillity in our lives because of the presence of problems. Conversely we assume that there will be peace in our life if all problems are got rid of. Needless to say that we have a variety of problems – economic, social, relational, health-related etc.. All through our lives we work hard – try to earn more money, more comfort, more possession, more fame etc. – with an intention of bringing down the number of problems we have. Our unconscious belief is that the more comfort we have, the less problems there will be.
However it is a question whether the increase of possession and position would be an answer to our problems. If they (possession etc.) solve one set of problems – say for example, economic problems – they create another set of new problems – problems of fear, insecurity, pride etc.. So a problem-free life is a mirage towards which everyone tries to move, but nobody seems to find the water of happiness and peace. It is said that ducks in water look like standing still. However underneath they are constantly moving their legs, i.e. there is a heavy restlessness. People who have material welfare, look like that they are peaceful, but deep down a continuous churning of inner conflict and restlessness is going on in them. This is the type of the peace, ‘the world’ (= materialism) can offer. It is a mirage that looks like an immediate possibility, but never becomes a reality. Even if it becomes a reality, it is only for a very short period. Many who walk in this path find life to be more restless and peace-less.
Peace offered by Jesus:
Jesus promises us another type of peace – that comes because of the presence of God in our lives. The Book of the Acts tell us that the early Church was tossed by various problems – problem of selfishness ( 5: 1ff), problem in distribution (6: 1ff), problem of persecution in the hand of the Jews (5: 40; 8: 3) and problem of division among the Christians (15:2). However the early Church was the Church which enjoyed a high level of joy and peace. It was this peace and joy that attracted others towards Christianity.
The reason why the early Church could retain its peaceful disposition in spite of all sorts of problems, was because it experienced the presence of the Risen Jesus. Though there were many problems that besieged the fort of the early Church, it could retain its peace and joy since it was deeply embedded in God. In the first reading, we see that there was a disagreement and argument between the Judeo-Christians, and Paul and Barnaba over the issue of circumcision. The Judeo-Christians insisted circumcision on the Gentile-converts to Christianity, while Paul and Barnaba vehemently opposed it. However, they could amicably settle the problem in the first ever Council of the Church i.e. Jerusalem Council. Such an amicable and peaceful co-existence was possible because they had experienced the presence of God in their lives.
A problem-free life is just a wish and it is never going to become a reality. As long as we have a body and mind – which are in constant interaction with the external situation – there will be problems, since any interaction with the outside will bring the unexpected (which we call as problem). If we grow a tree and if we want it to grow well, normally what we do is to strengthen its roots, and not protect it from wind and storm. For a peaceful life, deepening of our roots in God is more important than trying to protect ourselves from problems.