NB. the coffee was strong this morning, so I'll probably revisit this one for tomorrow's Mass. It's a bit. . .extra.
6th Sunday of Easter
Fr. Philip Neri Powell OP
The peace of Christ is NOT the peace of the world. Jesus himself says so. What's the difference? The peace of the world comes with accommodation and compromise; with going-along-to-get-along. We “fit in with” the world. We “settle into” the spirit of the age and float along with its currents, surrendering ourselves to the speed and direction of whatever fad or mad fashion pushes the hardest and pulls the longest. The peace of the world is narcotic. And addictive. It promises all those things that we hope will keep us safe. Safe from what? From whom? From the world itself, of course. Money keeps us safe from poverty. Power keeps us safe from slavery. Security keeps us safe from fear. But poverty, slavery, and fear belong to the world. So do money, power, and security. The peace of the world is a protection racket. “In exchange for your immortal soul,” the Spirit of the Age declares, “I promise to protect you from Me. I will give you everything you need to protect yourself from the evils I myself cause. Deal, or no deal?” The peace of Christ says, “No deal.” A heart given to Christ rests quietly in his peace. We are unaccommodating, uncompromising; we are unafraid and untroubled.
Or. . .we should be given the nature of Christ's peace. Jesus says to his twitchy disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you.” NB. Not only is his peace different from the world's peace but the way he gives his peace is different as well. The world's peace is a protection racket that does nothing more than protect us from the world itself. And its peace is purchased with our soul. Christ's peace is the peace which passes all understanding, keeping our hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God. AND. . .it is given to us. Not sold to us, nor bartered with us, nor loan out with interest. Given. Freely handed over without obligation or attachment. While the Spirit of the Age is a loan shark and extortionist, Christ is a victim whose sacrifice frees us from sin and death. Worldly peace mires us in fear, spiritual poverty, despair, and ultimately leaves us to prostitute ourselves for the barest acknowledgment from our Betters in the world. Christ's peace frees us from fear with the already fulfilled promise of resurrection. Christ's peace alleviates our spiritual poverty with the Father's gratuitous mercy. Christ's peace destroys despair with everlasting joy, now and in the kingdom to come.
So, what about those times when we are afraid? Ready to accommodate or compromise? What about those times when it seems that despair is the only proper response to circumstance? We've all been there. Death. Disease. Natural disasters. Job loss. Marriage problems. Doubt. Personal demons, mental illness, deadly vices. Where is Christ's freely given peace in the middle of a hurricane or a divorce or a child's death or a crisis of faith? It's right where it has always been. Right there; it's right there [point to crucifix]. The Spirit of the Age, its peace, makes no sacrifice. It takes. It manipulates by nature. It feeds on fear and worry. And bets on you and me being too weak in the face of terror to resist. But Christ, Christ went to the Cross. He went to the Cross so that you and I can be raised up above all that would drag us down. He died to kill death. And death, death-eternal, is indeed dead. Loss hurts. No doubt. Loss hurts. Placed along side the peace of Christ, loss is gain. Loss binds us closer to Christ. Loss clears our eyes and ears to better see and hear the love of Christ who lost it all for our sake. The peace of the world – that peace sells us the lie that loss is avoidable. The price we pay for believing the lie is crippling debt. Debt to the spirit who would prefer we just die.
So, if the peace of Christ is so precious and useful, how do we acquire it? What novenas do we have to pray? How long do we have to fast? How big a check do we need to write? The genius of the peace of Christ is that there is nothing we have to do but receive. Nothing to give or beg or borrow or steal. Just receive. Choose to be in the peace of Christ. It is already, always given. Jesus says, “My peace I give you.” When those inevitable losses come, when disaster strikes, receive the peace of Christ. Know he is with you. Always with you. He never left. He sent his Holy Spirit to travel with us. And that spirit of love remains. Every loss is gain in the presence of the Holy Spirit. His ministry is strength, endurance, patience, and, if you will receive it, peace. We travel through this world as citizens of the kingdom. Our passport is the peace of Christ.