6th. Sunday of Easter (C)
(Acts 15:1-2, 22-29; Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23; John 14:23-29)
Judas – not Iscariot – had just asked Jesus how it was that He would make Himself visible to His disciples and yet, not visible to the world. Judas could not understand how they, His disciples, would be able to see Jesus if people round and about them could not see Him; if He was really there wouldn’t all be able to see Him?
That, of course, is a question, indeed an argument, frequently posed by non-believers today: if the supposed Risen Lord and Saviour cannot be seen by all, then His Resurrection is nothing more than the work of over-excited Christians giving free rein to their imagination and hopes.
Jesus explains: With those who love Him, those who keep His word and seek His truth in all things, then He and the Father:
Will come and make Our dwelling with them
and the Holy Spirit too will come to dwell with Jesus’ Church and abide in His disciples:
The Holy Spirit Whom the Father will send in My name—He will teach you everything and remind you of all that (I) told you. (John 14:26)
The Spirit of truth, Whom the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows Him. But you know Him, because He remains with you, and will be in you. (John 14:17)
In that way the disciples will see Jesus: through loving obedience to His truth they will experience Him in both their Church and their personal lives; He will not, however. force Himself upon those who do not obey Him. At the final judgement He will be seen by all -- holy and glorious – and the sight of Him will condemn His enemies; but until such time they will remain free to continue crying out, ‘There is no God, no Saviour, no risen Christ’ … but by doing so they prove only one thing, that the light of their life is profoundly and tragically dark.
For the disciples, on the other hand, that presence of the Holy Trinity in their lives, their hearts and minds, brings the supreme gift of PEACE:
Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you.
And that peace of Jesus is most supremely desirable because it is established on sublime love, THE LOVE THAT ENABLED JESUS TO WALK TOWARDS THE HORROR OF ROMAN CRUCIFIXION WITH TOTAL, UNSHAKEABLE, PEACE:
The ruler of the world is coming. He has no power over Me, but the world must know that I LOVE the Father, and that I do just as the Father has commanded Me (John 14:31);
that is, to embrace crucifixion by the Romans and thus free mankind from the dominion of sin, and to rise again in the power of the Spirit and offer life-eternal with and in Myself to all my brothers and sisters, men and women of good-will.
For the People of Israel, it was the King’s prerogative and duty – as representative of God’s kingly power over His People – to win, achieve, bring about, worldly peace and security for the people; as we know from the words of a true Israelite father teaching his son, the future John the Baptist (Lk. 1:68–75):
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, for He has visited His people and redeemed them. He has raised up for us a mighty saviour in the house of David His servant, as He promised by the lips of holy men, those who were His prophets from of old. A Saviour Who would free us from our foes, from the hands of all who hate us. So His love for our fathers is fulfilled and His holy covenant remembered. He swore to Abraham our father to grant us that, free from fear, and saved from the hands of our foes, we might serve Him in holiness and justice all the days of our life in His presence.
God alone could bestow true peace on His faithful People as a prelude to the ultimate peace of heaven; for God is, according to St. Paul (1 Corinthians 14:33):
The God of peace.
For that reason, His covenant with Israel throughout the ages from Moses’ time had been a ‘covenant of peace’, as the great prophet Isaiah (54:10) explained:
Though the mountains leave their place and the hills be shaken, My love shall never leave you nor My covenant of peace be shaken, says the LORD, Who has mercy on you.
Now we know that Jesus quoted Isaiah’s very words found only three verses further on (54:13), so we can be absolutely sure that Jesus Himself read that promise of God’s unfailing love I have just quoted, and most surely realized that He Himself had been sent by His Father to be God’s ultimate Covenant of Peace with Israel and mankind: no longer a written document and remembered words though most highly treasured, but His beloved and only-begotten Son in His very own Person on the Cross of Calvary dying and subsequently rising for love of us.
Therefore, we see Jesus assuming His Messianic dignity, His divine power and authority, when He deliberately takes upon Himself to give what He declares only God can give:
Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. (John 14:27);
I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. (NLT)
How supremely important is this love and this peace!! Awareness of the fact that Jesus died for the freedom and salvation of all mankind and therefore for Paul personally, transfigured St. Paul’s life, and he responded with like love for Jesus and His church, absolutely certain – in the midst of his own plenitude of sufferings for the name of Jesus -- that the whole Church of Jesus is called to peace (cf. Ephesians 6:15; 1 Corinthians 7:15; Ephesians 2:14):
God has called us to peace in Christ, Who (Himself) is our Peace.
And as disciples of Christ it is our duty and calling to spread that peace to all who are worthy of it (Luke 10:3–5):
Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this household.’
Dear People of God, this is no subject to labour; Catholicism, authentic Christianity, is a response of love, calling ultimately for total commitment to the One, True, God Who wills to offer us a share in the blessedness of heaven in His most beloved, only-begotten Son, made Man for us.
As disciples of Christ it is our duty to spread this peace to all who are worthy of it, for Christ gave the disciples He originally sent to the Jewish people, that express duty (Luke 10:3–6):
I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this household.’ If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you
God be with you, dear People of God, when you leave this house today to serve Jesus in a world where peace is so greatly needed but so little known.