A Different Kind of Peace
Acts 14:19-28; John 14:27-31a
At first glance, today’s readings seem to be a study in contrasts—hardship, hard work and an exhausting stream of activity by the apostles in Acts versus Jesus’ gift of his peace to his disciples:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
Not as the world gives do I give it to you.
Do let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”—John 14:27
The world promises peace from the outside: through wealth and security, by means of negotiation or imposition, through power, control or (ironically) even violence. The peace that Jesus offers is from within. We sometimes forget that he gave that gift on the eve of his own suffering and death, when he was both troubled and afraid. The abiding, living and powerful peace that he gave to his disciples came from his utter belief that he was doing the will of his Father and fulfilling his mission on earth, even as it led to Golgotha.
It’s that same peace, along with the help of his fellow disciples, that enabled Paul to rise from the place where had been left for dead and return to the city where opponents had stoned him. He and Barnabas were further strengthened by that peace to “undergo many hardships” for the sake of the Kingdom. That peace gave them the faith, wisdom and humility to entrust their nascent Christian communities to the elders (presbyters) they had appointed. In that peace they were able to return to Antioch and report to the Church all that God had done with and through them.
In that same peace we seek to carry out in our day what they did in theirs.—JC