Theological Reflection for 6th Sunday of Easter
May 5, 2013
1st Reading: Acts 15:1-2,22-29; 2nd Reading: Rev 21:10-14,22-23; Gospel: John 14:23-29
“My Peace I Give to You”
In today’s gospel passage, the Lord Jesus begins His farewell speech to His disciples. He strengthens their faith and gives them divine peace; “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” (Jn 14:27) What is the significance of this message? How relevant is it to us today?
Today’s world seems to lack peace. More than ever there is news of war all over the world, but apart from that, there is lack of peace also in individual minds. There is lack of peace in families, Churches, and in various communities. People are troubled, worried, and are afraid. In this situation, the Lord Jesus is telling you and me, “Do not let your hearts be troubled” (Jn 14:27). Peace is not just the absence of war; it is a gift which only God can give. It is also a necessity. That was why, on the very day He rose from the dead, the Lord Jesus gave peace to His disciples and breathed on them the Holy Spirit (cf Jn 20:19-22). In order to achieve peace, we need to live in the spirit of God. Without the Holy Spirit individuals would be forever conflicted and the Church would never have peace.
Today’s first reading shows a serious conflict experienced in the early Church. Apparently, some of the early Christians decided to teach doctrines that have no divine basis; “Unless you are circumcised according to the Mosaic practice, you cannot be saved” (Acts 15:1-2). These teachings upset many people and disturbed their peace of mind but the apostles and elders, after prayer and fasting, came to a conclusion and sent a message to the troubled community in the following words, “It is a decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond necessary…”(Acts 15: 22). The Bible tells us that, through these words, the Church in Antioch was delighted and peace was restored (cf Acts15:30-35). How do we restore peace to so many hearts who are troubled today?
On a very sad note however, many Christians today do not seem to be paying much attention to the Holy Spirit. Consequently, we impose human teachings and traditions on people. And our teachings make their minds troubled. There is no peace because only very few pay attention to the voice of the Holy Spirit. In the Church, some perform ministries as if they were mere social functions; we hold council meetings without prayers and we make decisions without discernment. The more we forget the spirituality behind church ministries, the more secular/worldly the Church shall become. And the worldlier the Church becomes, the more trouble we shall have. How many of our teaching have to do with salvation of souls? How many of our teachings have to do with bringing peace of heart to people?
Today’s liturgy challenges us to reflect on our lives and ask ourselves: “Why do we have conflicts?” We can never achieve peace by war and arguments. Professional social mediators can never resolve a Church conflict. The only mediator we need is Jesus and the only advocate we need is the Holy Spirit. The only “circumcision” we need is that of the spirit and not of the flesh.
About ten years ago when I was serving in New York, a little girl came to give me a sheet of paper after Mass. She wrote this message in capital letters and I would like to share it with you all:
NO JESUS, NO PEACE
KNOW JESUS, KNOW PEACE.
May we know Jesus so that we may know peace in our hearts, our families and our Churches all over the world.
Fr. Clem Oyafemi