May 26, 2019 at St. Peter & St. William Churches in Naples, FL
Acts 15, 1-2, 22-29 + Psalm 67 + Revelation 21, 10-14, 22-23 + John 14, 23-29
Two promises are proclaimed today: The Spirit and Peace. That Spirit he promises is the very soul of Jesus: that spark of life, that power that animated him. It is the very presence of God that empowers anyone filled with that Spirit to be the presence of God to another, to exercise the work of Jesus Christ forgiving and healing whatever is broken keeping us from each other and from the Father. It is by and through that Spirit that the dream, the hope, and vision of Jesus that we might all be one is made possible. And then, unity, the bond of love between us a God, is the Peace he promises.
This world keeps thinking that “peace” comes from boarders guarded by huge armies, or weapons stock piled to strike fear in a foe; but the truth is, that is a war ready to happen. This world grows comfortable with a “peace” that is merely that absence of violence while restless unemployed youth, hopelessness and poverty grow greater and greater like a fuse waiting to be lit. Jesus knows the difference between this world’s idea of peace and what he wishes to leave within us.
Each time Jesus stepped into that upper room crowded with fearful and disappointed followers, he said: “Peace be with you.” In his language the word of Shalohm at that time, when used as a verb, described the mending of a net. It had to do with putting back together what was broken. When Jesus speaks that word, it announces that he is present in their midst, and that the relationship he had with those believers was not broken by death. He is there with them in that Spirit.
The peace Jesus leaves with us has little to do with feeling good inside and even less with an assurance of a calm, unruffled life or a successful career. The peace given by the crucified Messiah does not manifest itself in trivialities. The peace of Jesus has to do with fidelity toward the Father, with the awareness that we are loved and accepted by God. Hear that in these verses. Once we accept the staggering truth that God loves us in spite of everything we are and have done to him and to others, we can look at one another as children of God and be at peace with ourselves. This brings about a unity among us that reflects the unity of God. Understanding this is why racism or nationalism is so curious and so odd making us so uneasy and far from peace. Instead of finding our common unity in God, we fragment and individualize our identity. Unchecked, we will hardly ever recognize that we have a common Father.
The Peace Jesus leaves with us springs from the truth of our oneness which is never achieved by paring down or ignoring the complication of life, but only by entering into the magnetic pull of God’s grace, God’s love, and the unity God shares with His only Son. Living in peace is not optional. It is a requirement of our faith, and the unmistakable sign that we are filled with the Holy Spirit. The basis of human peace is peace with God.