SUNDAY’S READINGS | August 14, 2022
Jesus Christ is the “king of glory, king of peace” (George Herbert). Jesus Christ confers a “peace that passes all understanding” (Phil. 4:7). When he sent out 70 disciples in pairs ahead of him, he instructed them to greet every household with the word, “Peace to this house” (Luke 10:5). While preparing his disciples for his departure and return to the Father, he said, “I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you” (John 14:25-27).
In a post-resurrection appearance, Jesus passed through locked doors to again deliver a word of peace. “When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked … Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” (John 20:19-22). Indeed, the Holy Spirit is often called the Spirit of love and the bond of peace.
We are here together, in part, to rest in that divine peace, and to share it with each other. Do we not share this dialogue every week: “The Peace of the Lord be always with you. And also with you”?
What is this peace? Jesus is careful to say, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives” (John 14:27). The peace of Jesus Christ is different in character from what the world calls peace. Worldly peace often carries within it the deadly venom of festering animosities, and the threat of impending violence. Addressing this, the Second Vatican Council said in 1965, “Peace is not merely the absence of war. Nor can it be reduced solely to the maintenance of a balance of power between enemies. Nor is it brought about by dictatorship.”
It is precisely this false peace that Jesus rejects, a peace that once had students cowering under their desks in fear of a nuclear war, a peace in which children are told again and again that they are safe while compelled to rehearse active shooter drills, a peace in which adults are more and more finding it hard to govern their most disturbing and destructive emotions. There is a worldly peace that is filled with tension and fear, anxiety and depression, and its catastrophic cost across our land is epidemic.
So Jesus uses startling words. “Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law” (Luke 12:51-53) Jesus calls us away from the world and the false peace it promises. And this calling is a great crisis, one of division and decision in which we turn entirely to the peace that Christ alone can give. Only then may we return to the world as agents of true peace, Spirit-filled ministers of the gospel of reconciliation.
Look It Up: Jeremiah 23:29
Think About It: Jesus is — at times — fire, and a hammer.