Collect of the Day:
Father, you restored your people to eternal life by raising Christ your Son from death. Make our faith strong and our hope sure. May we never doubt that you will fulfil the promises you have made.
We make our prayer through Jesus Christ your Son Our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, ever One God world without end. Amen.
The First Reading: Acts of the Apostles: 14:19-28: They assembled the Church and gave an account of all that God had done.
The Gospel John: 14-27-31: My peace I give you.
Today’s Gospel is pregnant with hope and encouragement. Jesus begins by telling us:
“Peace I bequeath you, my own peace I give you, a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”
In Biblical terms the word peace, shalom, does not simply mean the absence of trails and discomfort. This peace means everything that which leads us to our greater or higher good. The peace the world offers is often a placebo, the peace of escape, a peace which seeks the avoidance of trouble, a peace that often finds solace in objects and chemicals to help us to avoid facing our lives head on and is often egocentric not counting the cost to others.
The peace which Jesus offers is the peace of enablement. It is the peace which no experience in life can ever take away. It is the peace which no sorrow, no danger, no suffering can make any less. It is the peace which is independent of outward circumstances, it is the peace that comes from within. It is the peace that has its origins not in the daily accumulation, rather in the daily hacking away at the unessentials, the barriers that stop us from developing a closer relationship with God. It is the letting go of the “I”, “Me”, “Mine” and abandoning ourselves to the furtherment of spreading the message of God’s Divine Mercy and Love. It is a peace that comes from obedience.
This a fact that is often overlooked when we are seeking peace, that true freedom can only come from true obedience. Not a forced obedience or a totalitarian form of obedience but in the free giving of ourselves to the choices in our life that serve the greater glory of God. St. Paul explains this in Romans 12:12.
“I appeal to you therefore, sisters and brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
This sacrifice is the daily dying to the self so we can say with Paul:
“It is no longer I that live, but Christ who lives in me.”
It is through this willing dying to ourselves and becoming alive to Christ that real peace is to be discovered. Now St. Paul writing to the Philippians in a Roman prison where he was more than likely in chains and had to sleep on an earthen floor amongst other discomforts, says:
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”
So it is through this total abandonment to Christ and His Gospel of peace and mercy that we can obtain the strength to embrace the peace that He offers us. As Our Lord Himself directed us:
“Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and the love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord: And the Blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, be amongst you and remain with you always. (1549 Book of Common Prayer)