Easter 6 C: peace I leave with you

From Fr. Tony Kadavil and

1. The Irish Girl – a servant who became a daughter of the family: 

Once upon a time back in the last century there was a young woman from Ireland who had lost her parents and all her family. Some kind people wrote to their relatives in America and said we have this fourteen year old orphan here who is very bright and very pretty and very hard working, We don’t want her to go to the orphanage because she won’t have any opportunities there to develop her talents. Would you ever consider hiring her as a servant girl. You’d have to pay her way over on the boat, but she’ll work for nothing until she earns her fare. You won’t go wrong with her. So the Americans who could afford a serving girl, but never had one and weren’t altogether sure what they would do with such a person talked about it and said, well, what have to lose. So they sent the fare for the boat and the train. And waited for the young woman to come.  

 She sailed from Kinsale. The last she saw of Ireland were the twin spires of the church as they faded into the background. Weeks later, sick and thin and exhausted, she arrived in the city where her master and mistress lived. They took one look at the poor child and said, Dear, we don’t need a servant, but we have room for another daughter. When they brought her home the other children hugged her and said, hooray! We have another sister. With their help she grew up to go to college and university and become very successful and was a great credit to those who took her into their family. (The Trinity is a family into which God has invited us)

(Andrew Greeley)

2. Calvin and Hobbes

One of the best newspaper cartoons of all time is Calvin and Hobbes. One day Calvin and Hobbes come marching into the living room early one morning. His mother is seated there in her favorite chair. She is sipping her morning coffee. She looks up at young Calvin. She is amused and amazed at how he is dressed. Calvin’s head is encased in a large space helmet. A cape is draped around his neck, across his shoulders, down his back and is dragging on the floor. One hand is holding a flashlight and the other a baseball bat.  

“What’s up today?” asks his mom.
“Nothing, so far,” answers Calvin.
“So far?” she questions.
“Well, you never know,” Calvin says, “Something could happen today.” Then Calvin marches off, “And if anything does, by golly, I’m going to be ready for it!”  

Calvin’s mom looks out at the reading audience and she says, “I need a suit like that!”

That’s the way many of us feel as we see the news and deal with life. Sometimes this world seems quite violent and people seem to be at each other’s throats. A suit like that would help, so we can say with Calvin, “Whatever may come my way, I’m going to be ready for it! Bring it on!”

Well, I don’t have a suit like Calvin’s to give you this morning, but I do have word for this morning: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

There is a defining phrase in that statement. One that tells us what kind of peace it is that Christ gives us. Listen to it again and see if you can pick it out: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” The defining phrase is: “Not as the world gives.” Do you see how that defines God’s peace? The world promises peace through the rule of law. Law and order is the only way for a society and a people to experience peace and law and order must be kept by the aggressive use of force. That’s the only way that the world can bring about peace. 

But here is how Jesus will give you peace. If you obey his word He and the Father will come to you and make a home with you. Right in your heart. Not by force but by choice. They will abide in your heart bringing peace. The world’s peace is peace through strength. The Lord’s peace is peace through surrender…

 3. Little League season

It is the heart of Little League season, those spring days when children get their first experience of playing on a team, of learning about the rules of play, and of listening to and heeding their coach. Do you remember that first voice spoken into your ear as you stood at home plate, gripping the bat like a lifeline, waiting for that first pitch?  

Unlike the actual game, when coaches call out from the sidelines, in a baseball batting practice the coach is right behind the Little Leaguer — squaring their shoulders, positioning the bat, adjusting their grip, evening out their elbows, speaking instructions every step of the way. Chances are if you still play ball you still hear the echo of that first coaching voice in your head…

Elbows down.
Bat back to your ear.
Keep your eye on the ball.

Some voices stay with us forever. What voices have spoken into your life? Can you still hear them?

 There are voices of encouragement that urge us to keep trying, keep working, keep doing what we know is right.

There are also those voices we hear that accuse us of not being good enough, of being a failure, of not deserving anything better than what we’re getting.  

The voices we listen to in our heart and soul can strengthen us or shatter us, push us forward or pull us down. The power of the Voice we ultimately answer to can determine the destiny and direction of our life. 

In today’s gospel text from John, it is the power and authority of Jesus’ voice that transforms the life of one man…
4. Live in the Light

I love a quotation and paraphrase of Martin Luther: “Can a rock that has been in the sunlight all day not fail to give off warmth and heat at night?” Can a rock that has been in the warmth and heat of the sun light all day not fail to give off warmth and heat at night? Can a Christian who has lived in the sunlight of God’s love not fail to give off warmth and love? No. That is why you have to have first things first. You don’t say to others, “Start loving each other. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice.” No, no, no. First, we need to live in the sunlight of God’s love. We need to bake in the sunlight of God’s compassion. We need to absorb God’s light into us. And then…we start to give off the love. May your light shine on me, God. May your love shine on us, God, so that there will be peace in our family and on the earth.  

Edward F. Markquart, The Father is Still Living in Me

5. A Greater Power Watching

There was a nature show on television about a black bear that gave birth to two cubs. One cub died right away. Three weeks later the mother died and the remaining cub was left to fend for itself. An orphaned cub in that condition is like a walking buffet for predators. And of course the camera immediately showed a hungry-looking mountain lion.  

One day the orphan cub encountered a giant male black bear. The little cub cowered at the bear's sheer mass. The larger bear peered around and seemed to realize that the mother bear wasn't anywhere to be found. He gave the little cub a friendly nudge. The camera then showed the little bear happily trailing along after the larger one. The adoption papers were signed, sealed and registered at the county seat in that nudge. Papa bear proceeded to show the cub how to grub for insects and how to catch fish and how to scratch his back against a tree.  

One day the two bears became separated. The cub began to cry and looked frantically for his new father, but couldn't find him anywhere. The cub approached a stream where he'd learned to fish and something caught his attention. He looked up to see a mountain lion ready to pounce. That same mountain lion had stalked the cub for the entire show. There was no way that mountain lion would've gone for that cub with Papa bear around, but now.... 

The camera zoomed in on the cub. He automatically mimicked the posture of his adopted father when threatened. He stood on his hind legs and bared his teeth. Then, in the exactly the same way his new father would have done, this cub let loose a mighty growl that should have reverberated throughout the forest. But, only a tiny bear cub squeak came out.  

Well, you know what was coming. But, to everybody's astonishment the mountain lion lowered his head and ran off in the opposite direction. 

The camera panned back to the proud little cub still standing tall on his hind legs. And then all the viewers saw what that little cub Could Not: a few yards behind him, at full, ferocious height, his sharp, white teeth bared in a snarl, stood Daddy bear. He may not have made a sound, but he was there.

And even though the cub couldn't see his father, his father stood guard, protecting his young. The little cub had power available greater than anything he could produce on his own. There was a greater power watching over him.  

Jesus said, [21] "They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them."

Billy D. Strayhorn, What Difference Does It Make?
6. Selfish and Altruistic at the Same Time  

Speaking about how human beings spend their time and thus may be pictured in novels, E. M. Forster says, "When human beings love they try to get something. They also try to give something, and this double aim makes love more complicated than food or sleep. It is selfish and altruistic at the same time, and no amount of specialization in one direction quite atrophies the other" (Aspects of the Novel [Orlando: Harcourt, 1927] 50).

On the verge of his departure from them, Jesus says to his loved ones, "If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I" (John 14:28b). This is so hard! How can the disciples rejoice that Jesus is leaving? What makes possible that kind of atrophied selfishness and robust altruism?

Mary Hinkle Shore, Enough
7. The Overwhelming Future
 This week someone left a cartoon on the Xerox machine at my office in which a man was lying on the couch of a psychiatrist. When the psychiatrist asked the client what his problem was he confided that he had all kinds of fears about the future. “Doctor,” he began, “I’m worried about the energy crisis, inflation, the situation in the Middle East, political and social upheaval in Africa, our diplomatic relations with China …” I wish I could remember all of the concerns of the man in the cartoon; there were at least a dozen. In the final frame the psychiatrist responded, “Shut up and move over,” after which he proceeded to get on the couch with the patient.

A cartoon such as this would be much more amusing if it did not contain so much truth. The problems of the future are almost overwhelming. Those in a position to know the facts are privately saying that things are not nearly as bad as they seem—they are worse. Public officials seem to have taken the same approach to our national problems as many doctors do with a terminally ill patient—keep the unpleasant truth from them as long as possible.
Jesus doesn’t hold to that particular philosophy.  

Bob Deffinbaugh, Facing the Future: A Prescription for Peace
8. A Place of Peace 

Jesus was preparing his disciples for tough times. He was about to ascend to the Father and they would be on their own -- left to find their way through this world alone. And yet, they would not be alone. For he would be with them in the presence of the Comforter, the Counselor, the Holy Spirit. In 1520 Ferdinand Magellan battled for an entire year to find a passage around South America. There at the very tip of the continent, in its icy waters he encountered some of the worst weather anywhere on earth. Raging seas, towering ice floes, and a mutinous crew plagued his efforts. When he finally made his way through those straits (which today bear his name -- the Straits of Magellan), he entered into a great body of water that lay beyond, and as he and his men lifted their faces to heaven and gave thanks to God, he named the new ocean "The Peaceful One -- the Pacific Ocean."

In his words this morning, Jesus desires to lead us in the same way to a place of peace. It is his hope to direct our feet and steer our lives from the paths that would lead to hell to his place of peace. "Let not your hearts be troubled," he says, "neither let them be afraid."

Lee Griess, Sermons for Lent/Easter, CSS Publishing Company
9. No Reason to Be Afraid 

The late advice columnist Ann Landers use to receive something like 10,000 letters a month. When asked what seems to be the most common topic, she answered that most people seem to be afraid of something. They are afraid of losing their health, their job, or their family. They are afraid of upsetting their neighbor, alienating a friend, or committing a social faux pas. Many are even afraid when there is no reason to be afraid. Ours is a world of fearful people.

Lee Griess, Sermons for Lent/Easter, CSS Publishing Company
10. I Want Peace 

When Dante knocked at the door of the Franciscan monastery at Lunigiana he was asked, "What do you want?" He replied, "Peace!"


11. Mommy, Was That God? 

I recall the story of a little girl who, when trains were popular transportation, was taking her first train ride with her parents. As night descended, the mother took the girl, who was clearly quite anxious, and placed her on the upper bunk of the sleeper. She told her little one that up there she would be nearer to God and that God would watch over her.

 As silence enveloped the young lady she became afraid and called softly, "Mommy, are you there?"

"Yes dear," came the response.

A little later, in a louder voice, the child called, "Daddy, are you there, too?"

"Yes dear," was the reply.

 After this had been repeated several times one of the passengers sharing their sleeper car finally lost his patience and shouted loudly, "Yes, we're all here, your father, your mother, your brother, and all your aunts and cousins; now settle down and go to sleep!"

 There was a moment of silence and then… in hushed tones a little voice asked, “Mommy, was that God?”

We never truly outgrow the uneasiness, the fear of being abandoned, especially in unknown
settings and circumstances, do we?

Imagine the disciples. They have left everything to follow Jesus. They have spent the better
part of 3 years with him, every day, night and day. They are all in the prime of their lives, and
suddenly, earnestly, Jesus starts to talk about “going away.” They ask questions, clearly anxious about being left alone. And Jesus promises them that he will not leave them orphaned. [cf. John 14:18] Then he issues a rather clear directive to them. “Those who love me will keep my word ... whoever does not love me does not keep my words;” [from John 14:23-4] And he follows this up with a reminder, “and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.” [John 14:24b]
Stories from Father Tony Kadavil's Stable:

# 1: Helen Keller’s indwelling God? The story is told that after Helen Keller’s teacher, Annie Sullivan, had given her the names of physical objects in sign language, Miss Sullivan attempted to explain God and tapped out the symbols for the name "God." Much to Miss Sullivan’s surprise, Helen spelled back, "Thank you for telling me God’s name, Teacher, for he has touched me many times before." How could Helen Keller have known about God? Although she was blind and deaf, Helen Keller knew God, for God had shown Himself to her. That is “revelation” of an indwelling God about whom today’s scripture speaks.  
# 2: Temples of the Triune God: St. Francis of Assisi was an ardent advocate of the doctrine of the indwelling of God in man. It enabled him to love every one equally whatever his status in life. One day he met a fellow who had no love for God. As they walked along they met a man who was blind and paralyzed. St. Francis asked the sightless cripple: “Tell me if I were to restore your eyesight and the use of your limbs, would you love me?” “Ah,” replied the beggar, “I would not only love you but I would be your slave for the rest of my life.” “See,” said Francis to the man who maintained that he could not love God, “this man would love me if I gave him his sight and his health. Why don’t you love God Who created you with eyesight and strong limbs?” That is what Jesus tells us in today’s gospel. If we love him because of the countless blessings he has given us by “keeping his words” he will start dwelling within us in the company of his Father and the Holy Spirit, making us the temples of the Triune God. (Msgr. Arthur Tonne)

 # 3: The most unpromising boy in my class:" A schoolmaster in France was discouraged with one of his students. He wrote in his roll book concerning this student: "He is the smallest, the meekest, the most unpromising boy in my class." Half a century later, an election was held in France to select the greatest Frenchman. By popular vote, that meekest, smallest, most unpromising boy was chosen. His name? Louis Pasteur, the founder of modern medicine. When he was seventy-three, a national holiday was declared in his honor. He was too weak to attend the ceremony in Paris, so he sent a message to be read by his son. The message read: "The future belongs not to the conquerors but to the saviors of the world" [Edward Chinn, Wonder of Words (Lima, Ohio: C.S.S. Publishing Co., Inc., 1987), p. 18.] Louis Pasteur was driven by a great purpose. Your name and my name may never be a household word like Pasteur's, but we, too, can be driven by a great purpose. Christ can give us that purpose. But there is one thing more Christ gives us. He gives us the presence of the Holy Spirit as promised in today’s gospel. A healthy sense of identity and a driving purpose are not enough in themselves. One thing more is needed. It is the in-dwelling Spirit of the living God.

# 4: Here is an Irish lyric: "Paddy Murphy went to Mass, never missed a Sunday. But Paddy Murphy went to hell, for what he did on Monday."

# 4:  Don’t lose your mental peace: The Sunday school children had all been photographed with pastor sitting in their center. The pastor was trying to persuade the children to buy a copy of the group photo.

"Just think how nice it will be to look at it when you are all grown up and say, 'There's Jennifer; she's a lawyer,' or 'That's Michael; he's a doctor.'

A small voice at the back of the room rang out, "And there's our pastor; he's dead."

# 5:  Peace and Relaxation: Did you know that.....If you can start the day without caffeine, if you can get going without pep pills, if you can always be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains, if you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles, if you can eat the same food every day and be grateful for it, if you can understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time, if you can take criticism without resentment, if you can ignore a friend's limited education and never correct him, if you can resist treating a rich friend better than a poor friend, if you can conquer tension without medical help, if you can relax without liquor, if you can sleep without the aid of drugs, ...Then You Are Probably The Family Dog!