5th Week of Easter, Tuesday, May 4
Acts 14:19-28 / John 14:27-31
Jesus calms his disciples; "Do not be troubled or afraid. "
London was bombed mercilessly during World War Il. One night a man in his 80s was standing outside St. Andrew's Church. The church was located on the edge of London and overlooked the city.As the old man look down on the fire and smoke rising from the city, he began to cry. "Is there no hope at all?" he sobbed.
Just then a gust of wind cleared the smoke long enough for the old man to see the cross atop the dome of St. Paul's. The instant he saw it, he felt a surge of hope soar through his body. He stopped being "troubled and afraid." For he suddenly realized that there was a power greater than evil at work in the world.
Do we ever become discouraged by all the evil at work in the world? "I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe." John 14:29
In carrying out his mission of proclaiming the Gospel, Paul and Barnabas with him, is persecuted, stoned, driven from one place to another. He doesn’t give up; he continues founding local communities and giving them a basic structure of leadership, so that they can function on their own. He has even the courage to “put fresh hearts into the disciples” and to acknowledge that God has accomplished great things in them.
Likewise, before his passion and death, Christ speaks of peace and encourages the apostles not to be troubled or afraid. Nothing will keep him from carrying out his mission of love. No one can rob us of our interior peace, serenity and freedom if we are united with God in love.
One of the factors that draw people to a religion is that it gives them this sense of peace. They will speak of experiences like being troubled and in distress and then something mysterious happens. For whatever reason, they will just be drawn to a church, and there they will feel a sense of peace and calmness.
Or they may hear a hymn and the tune or the words just resonate in them. Or they may look at the crucifix or a holy picture or statue and they will feel that God is with them and they experience a sense of security. Say it anyway we want, the experience is similar as well as familiar - the experience of peace.
These experiences only go to show that Jesus continues to give us peace, especially in our troubled lives and in our troubled world. It is only with this peace that Jesus gives that will enable us to persevere in our faith and empower us to face the many hardships of life.
At every Eucharist, Jesus gives us His peace when He says: I leave you peace; my peace I give you. 7Let us continue to trust in Jesus, the Prince of Peace, and may we not be troubled and afraid of the difficulties of life.
Peace is not the composure and calmness of the secure man. That is not "his" peace. Peace is the messianic gift. Isaiah (9.6) announced him as the Prince of peace and the angels sang of peace to men of good will (Luke 2-14). That is "his" peace. He has come to take away sin and fear. Peace exists in the absence of sin and fear. It depends on righteousness, obedience and justice. The world has no peace, it is afraid. The disciple too may suffer this fear. Union with God alone overcomes fear. This is the first gift Jesus gives while going. The second is the promise that he will come again. This gives us a reason for hope. He goes to the Father, who is greater than he. He will come again after his resurrection and at the end of time. He mentions the greatest source of his courage and the inspiration for all he does: his love for the Father. This made him accept the cross.
Lord our God, almighty Father, you have absolute power over the world, and yet you respect the freedom of people, even of those who persecute your faithful. Make us realize that our faith does not protect us against the evil which people bring upon one another, but that you want us to build according to your plan a kingdom of justice, love and peace. Help our faith to stand the test when our meagre efforts fail. We ask you this through Christ, our Lord. Amen