Peace I leave you, My peace I give you
It's hard to find any period in history when we can say that the world enjoyed peace. Is conflict endemic in the human condition? Are we programmed to create violent disagreement?
Politicians like to talk about world peace as if there were some set of policies that would guarantee it. Well, it’s true that material prosperity can create a climate of satisfaction but it doesn’t guarantee peace.
And, yes, justice and intolerance can wipe away years of conflict. But this is not peace – it’s only truce – it’s only the absence of war. And the absence of war is not the same as peace.
The sort of peace that Jesus offers as a gift to his Church is much deeper than a cessation of hostilities. It is that shalom guaranteed by God’s holy spirit, that deep-down sense of the presence and all-embracing love of God that cannot be shaken by external circumstances. Christian peace means that we can have joy even in sorrow, tranquility even in disturbance; faith even in doubt.
The peace that Jesus offers is about integrity and wholeness, harmony and balance, serenity and security. And Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit who will teach the Christian to live in this peace.
The source of a Christian’s peace is God. God is peace itself and without God we can experience no true shalom. To know that we are loved by God, that whatever might be happening all around us God still holds us in the palm of his hand, to realise that even death cannot destroy the life that God has given us, all of this creates that sense of wellbeing that accompanies real peace. So peace is not the absence of war – it’s the presence of God in our lives.
Fr Pius Mathew CMI