Sunday Sermon for May 22, 2022, the Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year C
Readings: Acts 15:1-2, 22-29; Rev 21:10-14, 22-23; Jn 14:23-29
In the Gospel reading today our Lord tells us that He leaves us with peace, but not just any peace, rather, “My peace I give to you.” He makes the distinction between the peace He gives and the peace the world gives, then tells us not to be troubled or afraid. First of all, the peace the world gives is external and temporary. That is, the world’s peace is merely an absence of conflict. The Lord’s peace, on the other hand, is interior and abiding.
We see this in the lives of the Saints who are able to remain completely at peace while they are surrounded by chaos and turmoil. We can think of St. Stephen who, when brought before the Sanhedrin, accused of many falsities, and being threatened remained at peace while his face appeared like that of an angel. Most of us could only dream of being able to have that kind of peace!
But we must ask the question of how we can achieve this kind of peace. This is not something that can be achieved by our own efforts. Rather, since it is our Lord’s own peace, it must come from Him. We have our part to do in order to dispose ourselves to receive this peace, but it is a gift which is given, not a reward that is earned.
Jesus told us in the Gospel that if we love Him and keep His word, the Father will love us and the Most Holy Trinity will come to dwells in us. So, if we are in the state of grace, the three Persons of God dwell in the innermost part of our soul. With God dwelling in us, the description of the New Jerusalem given in the second reading should describe us: “It gleamed with the splendor of God. Its radiance was like that of a precious stone.”
Have you seen this in yourself? Sadly, most of us can count on our fingers how many people we have ever met that might fit this description. God dwells in our souls, but in most of our souls He is buried under a mountain of baggage. This could include wounds from our past which cause us to be filled with fear and anxiety. Many of us do not trust God, so we keep our guard up because we are afraid to be vulnerable or to let go of control. Today many do not have a spiritual life; consequently, they are unable to unite themselves with the Lord Who dwells within them.
Perhaps the greatest reason why we are not united with the Lord is because we are not even aware that He dwells within us. The only way His peace can be ours is if we are united with Him so that His peace can flow in us and through us. When this happens, we can gleam with the splendor of God and our face can be like that of an angel.
This will require that, in prayer, we sift through all the baggage under which our Lord is buried. It will require that we really want union with Him. For most of us, this is difficult because we prefer our own will to His. We want our Lord in our lives, but we do not want Him to be the center of our lives. This is not only tragic, but it involves an intrinsic contradiction. We call Him Lord, but we do not want Him to be Lord of our lives. We give Him lip service, but our hearts are far from Him.
As we go through this process, we also must be willing to let go of our preconceived ideas about what should happen or how something should happen. God’s ways are not our ways, so if you expect Him to operate in a certain way, He will probably frustrate your expectations. When we look at the first reading, not only do we hear about the people who wanted to require the Gentile converts to become Jewish (males must be circumcised) in order to be saved, but we also hear about the response of the Apostles. They wrote to the Gentile converts that it was the decision of the Holy Spirit and their own to place no burdens on them other than what was necessary.
How many unnecessary burdens do we carry in our hearts? The process of striving for union with God will purify and simplify our lives. It is precisely this purity and simplicity that will bring the peace we desire. Like St. Martha, we worry and are upset over many things. Jesus alone is necessary, and He is not a burden. He dwells in your soul and He wants you enter there, to unite yourself with Him, and to receive His peace.
Fr. Altier’s column appears regularly in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly published in St. Paul, Minn. For information about subscribing to The Wanderer, please visit www.thewandererpress.com.