The Gospel Reading today is very appropriate today, with the many uncertainties around us. There are those who are sick, the suffering, the dying, those who are uncertain of the future. For the disciples of Jesus in the Gospel, they do not understand what will happen that night or the next day. Yet, in the midst of this uncertainty, when their hopes on the establishment of a physical kingdom will be crushed, when their dreams of Jewish independence will crumble, Jesus tells them Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. This peace Jesus gives is an absence of war or disturbance. It is not one where things are all lined up. In fact Jesus said: the ruler of this world is coming. The peace Jesus gives is one that transcends our human condition. It goes above and beyond the attacks of the devil because it is grounded on the Person of Jesus.
The First Reading shows us this peace when even after being stoned, dragged outside the city and left for dead, Paul stood up and still went into the city that did this to him. He had this peace that gave him the courage to enter back into danger! Why? Because his peace is grounded on the Person of Jesus.
Today, Christians are persecuted, in China, in fundamentalist Islamic countries, and even in the west, there is this move to silence Christians. Yet, in the midst of all these persecutions, Christians continue to do what Jesus said: Rise, let us be on our way because they know that when they follow Jesus, whatever confronts them will not harm them. They may be like Paul who was stoned, threatened with death, or like Jesus who bravely faced his death. But this peace of Jesus, this belief in Jesus gives them supernatural faith that whatever they suffer now will not compare to the glory they will receive.
This does not mean that we should be reckless in our lives. We do not rush headlong looking for persecution and suffering. There is no need to go out looking for opportunities to suffer because sufferings and persecution will come! And when they come, we can only trust in the words of Jesus. And all we can do is what the Responsorial Psalm tells us: we tell the glory of the kingship of the Lord. We speak of the glory of the kingdom of God and tell of his power. We make known the mighty deeds of God.
In the midst of the lock down, some with no end in sight, it is normal to feel afraid. Where will the next meal come from? What will happen after all these have passed? No one knows, but one thing is certain: Jesus Christ is faithful. He gives us two commands today:
- Do not let your hearts be troubled. The word troubled here means agitated. This is very normal to us. Even Jesus was disturbed when he was at the tomb of Lazarus. He also admitted he was disturbed about what will happen to him. This command not to let our hearts be troubled means not to let the fear or terror shake us.
- Do not let them be afraid. The word translated as afraid in Greek is not the common word for fear. This word mean timid. To be timid is to lack courage to meet danger. This is what makes us go beyond our fears.
What Jesus is saying is we should not be paralyzed with fear. Yes, we will be troubled. Yes, we will be afraid, but faith goes beyond fear and agitation. It is trust in the Person of Jesus. Trust in what he says. Trust in his power to save. Trust that he has the best planned for us. It is this trust that drives us to respond with courage. The peace Jesus leaves is free for us to take, we just need to ask and he will give that peace.
Are you troubled right now? Are you overwhelmed with your life? Come and receive the peace Jesus leaves you. Only he can give you peace because he is OUR peace who has broken down every wall. Your situation will not change. Your problems will still be there. The difference is now, Jesus is with you.
Lord, deep in my heart I am afraid and troubled of what the future holds. I do not know what will happen. Yet, I know you know how I feel. I surrender this fear to you. You tell me you leave me YOUR peace. I want that peace Lord and I come to you and ask you to give me that peace. And I know you will not disappoint because those who trust in you will not be put to shame. Jesus, thank you for the peace you have given me. Jesus, I trust in you.