Readings for May 26, 2019
Acts 15:1-2, 22-29
Jesus says, in essence, that love begets obedience, “If a man loves me, he will keep my word.” He also equates knowledge with faith, “I have told you [these things] before it takes place, so that when it does take place, you may believe.” When I understand all this, I will have his peace within me. And I could use a bit of peace. The first part of 2019 has been far less peaceful than I would have hoped. Sometimes, it feels like I am waiting for the next shoe to drop, often leading to an anticipatory stress that takes me away from any moment of peace I may have.
However, this week’s readings seem to point less to the circumstances in which I find myself and more toward an understanding of the contrast of Jesus’ teachings versus the world’s view of peace. The worldview of peace is the absence of trouble, a life of flowers and deep thoughts, emotional stability and blue skies. But Jesus promises a different kind of peace, a decidedly more active one which is most definitely “not as the world gives.” Peace comes through faith and right judgement of what is just and correct. The elders of the Church modeled this, refusing to make a rash judgement regarding the requirements for the Gentiles to live according to the Law. The brothers discern their decision through the Holy Spirit, living out what Jesus taught when he said, “The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach all things.” It is to my benefit to do the same. Without a focus on Christ and discernment through the Holy Spirit, I am bound by human intent and emotion.
Jesus knows there will be continuing trouble for his followers as they walk toward and teach of an eternal peace. In fact, Jesus warns that “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). Our trials, then, will necessarily separate us from the world so we can live forever with Christ. Only when we love God enough to do as we are commanded will we be able to face our trials with the peace of Christ. The follower that believes, obeys and loves will have the fire within to counter the world’s fire.
My stress is real but waiting for the next big thing to come my way isn’t bringing me any peace. Rather, I need to sharpen my focus on Christ and his teachings of peace to persevere. I know there will be difficulty in my life. I also know that when I am obedient to God’s call, living out an imitation of Christ’s love, and discerning with the help of the Holy Spirit, I will find an active and fully alive peace within, a confidence that will strengthen and confirm my faith, allowing me to find true peace in all circumstances.
O blessed Jesus, give me stillness of soul in You. Let your mighty calmness reign in me. Rule me, O King of Gentleness, King of Peace.
-St. John of the Cross