In the Gospel today, Jesus tells us: “Peace is My gift to you”. We live in a world that is desperate for peace. Given the state of the world we live in, it would seem that not many have received the gift. There is no peace in Iraq where soldiers and civilians are brutalized, executed and killed. There is no peace in the Middle East – where Israelis and Palestinians kill each other with suicide bombs and rockets. There is no peace in many African and Central and South American countries – where the poor are brutalized, starved and murdered by two-bit dictators. There seems to be little peace in the homes of many Americans where husbands or wives or children become the target of physical and  Psychological abuse. Our mental hospitals are overcrowded with people at war with themselves; suicide among juveniles is on the rise. Is then Christ’s promise of peace a sham, or a pious figure of speech? The “peace” Jesus promised is possible for any of us – even in the midst of our turbulent world, and in the midst of personal suffering and loss; for “peace” does not come from the world – the world is not capable of making us happy. We are created in such a way that nothing created can satisfy us or give us true peace. Oh, we can find happiness and peace here and there, but it always ends – it never stays as long as we want it. Jesus came to give us what we can’t find here. He refers to that gift of peace when He says, “Peace.” “Peace is My farewell gift to you,” Ordinarily, a going-away gift is given to the person who is Leaving. Jesus reverses that. He gives the gift – not the absence of war, nor a feeling of well-being or an end to psychological tension. Rather, the peace of Jesus is a positive, powerful, life-giving force – the Gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit moves into every human situation, bringing healing, bringing reconciliation, bringing wholeness, bringing peace of mind and heart and soul. The peace of Jesus Christ – the Gift of the Holy Spirit – is a gift which takes away our fear, doubt, and insecurity, and fills us with hope, trust, and confidence in facing all the challenges of living our lives according to the Gospel. As Jesus concluded His farewell address, He told His disciples that the Father would send them the Holy Spirit – the Gift of Peace – to help them understand and live the teaching of Jesus and lead them to all truth. The Holy Spirit empowered the Apostles to give witness to Jesus by continuing His mission. In the Early Church, the Holy Spirit lead thousands to conversion, built up the community, performed many miracles of healing, and gave strength in persecution. In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we hear about an important issue which the Apostolic Church had to face. The Holy Spirit guided the Apostles, assisting them in making a critical decision concerning Gentile entrance into the Church through baptism. Where is the Holy Spirit today? Why is there no real peace in the world, in the Church, in our families, in our lives? Is it because the Holy Spirit has abandoned us? Or is it that we have abandoned the Holy Spirit because we have failed to believe the message of the Church? Over the centuries, the teaching of Jesus and His Church have been watered-down, and our Faith has become mediocre – our love of God has limits and our Faith has no passion. We really are not convinced of the relevance of the Gospel in our lives and in the life of society. God and His Church are not convenient for the lifestyles we have chosen to live. We half-heartedly proclaim the Spirit of Truth because we are not convinced of the truth. We silently ask ourselves: What will happen to me if I act in a way that society no longer values? What will happen to me if I speak about absolute moral norms which society terms out-dated and old-fashioned? What will happen if I walk-out on a situation which society finds stimulating and acceptable? Jesus gave the Church the gift of peace – the Gift of the Holy Spirit. That Spirit commands us and enables us to live our Faith every day and not merely talk about it. In these times, when the Church is under fire, we cannot be content with a mediocre Faith. We must put our priorities, values, and possessions in order. Society must see in us living the teachings of Jesus – striving to live our lives as Jesus taught us. Then we will know the Peace Jesus speaks of in today’s Gospel.

 

 

 

 

 

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