6th Sunday of Easter, Year C

Acts 15:1-2, 22-29; Rev 21:10-14, 22-23; Jn 14:23-29

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘peace I leave with you, my own peace I give you.’ We can’t give peace to others if we don’t have it ourselves. Jesus was able to give peace to others because he had it himself. The Lord will give us too his peace. We are in dire need of peace in today’s turbulent world. We can experience and live this peace in the midst of the hurry-bury life around us, in the maze of our workaday world.

In his book titled ‘Go down to the Potter’s house, Donagh O’Shea has a story about a king who had two artists in his court. These two artists were bitter rivals. One day the King decided to test which of them was a better artist. He asked them to create or paint the theme of ‘Peace’ so he could judge which of them was better.

A week later, the first man presented his painting. It showed a dreamy landscape with rolling hills and a plain lake. The whole scene speaks of stillness, quiet, contentment, serenity and peace, he explained. As the King looked at the picture, he could barely suppress a yawn. Turning to the artist, he said, your picture is pretty, but it puts me to sleep. A day after this, the second man presented his own work: It showed a thundering waterfall. It was so realistic that one could almost hear the roar of the water as it crashed into the rocks, hundreds of feet below. But this is not the scene of peace that I asked you to create, the King impatiently retorted. The artist made no reply but motioned him to continue looking. Then the King spotted a detail that had almost escaped him. Among the rock at the base of the waterfall, a small shrub was growing with bird’s nest on its branches. On looking more closely, he noticed that there was a bird inside the nest and hatching some eggs, he eyes half closed. She was waiting for her chicks to emerge. This is a perfect image of peace, the man screamed in amazement and excitement.  The King said to the artist, you have conveyed one important message about peace. You have shown that it is possible to be at peace in the midst of the hurly-burly of life.

Jesus spoke about peace during the last supper. It was at a time when everything around him was anything but peaceful. The tensions and anxiety were building up. Everything was apparently in turmoil. Peace is not the same as tranquillity. Tranquillity is external while peace is essentially internal. Peace is a state of inner calm and designates right relationship with God and with others. It doesn’t always mean the absence of conflicts or challenges. Peace is one thing that is lacking in our world today both at a personal and collective level. The heart is thundering, the psyche is dulled by resentments, disaffection and frustration. Senses of misery and revolt hang in the air. As Christians, we are invited to pursue peace with one another. We are invited to possess peace even in the midst of turmoil, conflict, unmet needs and unresolved problems.

In a broader sense, the barriers of suspicion that divide humankind into enemy camps are mental barriers, attitudes of mind built of greed and pride which prevent our communicating with one another, as the story of the tower of Babel portrays [cf. Genesis 11:1-9]. Looked at from the satellite, the earth is one planet, small, rich and precious, and no frontier or iron curtains are to be seen. The frontiers and barriers are in the minds and hearts of people who inhabit the world. It is possible to influence people by taking the risk of making peace through communication. The task is to create harmony and enhance love among all peoples in our world. This is a vocation and a challenge for all Christians [cf. John 20:19-23]. This is the role of Christian. We are particularly called today to become bridge-builders. In this sense, we are to mediate God’s love, peace, harmony and general goodness. As St. Francis of Assisi knew, the instruments of God’s peace are people, ordinary people, little people, often poor people serving ordinary little poor neighbours. This is where the most realistic hopes of Christians lie. The tool against peace is that of acts of indifference and inactivity. According to Edmund Burke, the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for the few good people to keep quiet or to just look on and do nothing.

Peace-making and the love of enemies, as Jesus practised it and as the New Testament teaching, is not a cowardly opting out of the conflicts and divisions in the world. It is rather the positive and courageous activity of living now in and by the peace which God gave when he himself entered the world in Jesus Christ. Any realistic efforts at bridge-building  [brokering peace and unity] today should include:  evaluation of the various issues in conflict, exploration of the specific roles of individuals and groups, assessment of the degree of wounds and extent of hurts being nursed by the victims of this conflicts, evaluation of personal role in the point at issue, a true remorse where necessary and the assessment of the level of divisions already created as a result of these situations. Jesus offers his peace to us. The peace the world cannot give, a peace that no one can take away from us.

- By Fr. Innocent Abonyi, MSP

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