Peace Where?

Sixth Sunday of Easter (C)

One afternoon, as I was praying in Church, a man sat next to the pew I was sitting on. In tears, he asked me if I spoke English. So we engaged in a little conversation. Still in tears, he said: I’ve been sitting in the back for almost an hour already, and you’re still sitting here…. I have so many problems. I am rich,” he continued,” and I’m addicted to many things that I should not be doing. I thought I could find happiness in all that I’ve been doing. I’ve been waiting for a priest to come in so that I can talk to him.” So, I asked him: “Do you want to talk to the priest now”? “Yes,” he said. “You’re talking to him,” I answered. Despite the tears, his eyes glowed; his face turned to a smile. We spent some time talking. As we walked out of the Church, he thanked me profusely, gave me his card and promised to get in touch often. So he did, and seemed to be happy, despite the trials he’s been undergoing.

Many people tend to seek peace in places where they fully know there isn’t any. They go to noisy music and liquor bars. Some would look for peace in food or in fame. Others would seek peace by taking prohibited drugs or entering into unhealthy and immoral relationships. Many couples seek peace in abortion or divorce and find themselves in a more restless situation. Others think they can find peace by cheating or lying to avoid adverse consequences for doing or not doing something. Still others would try to arrive at peace by reporting their misfortunes to the media, where things get even more shuffled up. The world has upset many with its teachings and have disturbed their peace of mind (Acts 15:24).

In our society where the capitalistic mentality is generally acknowledged, people have learned to be more individualistic rather than living the culture of family. Many have conveniently dropped relationships, even their families, only to pursue comfort and career. This has led society to treat almost everything and everyone as disposable, including spouses and unborn children. People easily give in to passion and temperament to boost their ego. They have to be right at all times at the expense of a happy relationship. People turn away from pain, struggle and difficulties, because they think that these lead to disability and death.

So, we tend to think that there should be immediate gratification and solution for everything that we go through, without considering long-term consequences. We think that peace is something that we can find outside of ourselves, as if we can buy it at a store or enjoy it in places we go. The reason why peace is very illusive is that we look for it in the fleeting things of this world rather than in persons and in proper relationships.

However, Jesus did not promise peace without difficulties. The problem with attaining peace is that it demands personal sacrifice. Jesus made it clear to His disciples, as He makes it clear to us: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives, do I give it to you”. If we want peace, we have to search for Jesus. He offers His peace to us only in His terms: to listen to His Words, to obey His commands and to love as He loves. He also wants us that in and with prayer we grow in relationship with Him and with others, that we come to love Scriptures, that we be of service to the Church and the poor, that we celebrate the Sacraments especially Reconciliation and the Eucharist, and that we grow in virtues everyday. In fact, He made this promise of peace as His legacy to His disciples, and He would send the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father would send in His name, and would teach them everything and remind them of all that He told them (Jn 14:26). At the Last Supper, Jesus made true of His name, Emmanuel, that “whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him” (Jn 14:23).

In his homily on May 2, 2010 in Turin, Italy, in consideration of the peace that Jesus gives to us, the love that He demands of us and the hope that He guarantees for us, our former Pope, Benedict XVI, said: “I exhort families to live the Christian dimension of love in simple daily actions, in family relationships, overcoming divisions and misunderstandings, in cultivating faith, which makes communion still stronger…. To everyone, in particular the young people, I want to say never to lose hope, that which comes from the risen Christ, from God’s victory over sin and death” (www.zenit.org).

We celebrate and partake of the Eucharist to make alive in us the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus, so that He can live in us, and we, in Him. Let us seek Him in relationships worthy of our King of Peace.

5-5-13

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