‘World peace’ is still an idea that is far from reality. While we face many conflicts and terror, beginning from the family to the larger society, the human heart yearns for peace! Sometimes violence erupts in the name of peace-making! Without peace, man cannot live out his full potential, and human dignity can easily be trampled upon. Despite the increasing noise of violence, the silent voice of peace continues to survive. Peace has hidden strength and weight that disgraces the empty uproar of conflict.
Now, think about the experience of St Paul in today’s Mass reading. The Jews stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But he survived. The next day he continued his mission in another city, accompanied by Barnabas. His experience became a message of encouragement, for he said to the people, “Through many tribulations, we must enter the Kingdom of God.”
It is obvious that St Paul found peace despite the violence that was projected on him. Maybe we need to review our idea of peace from this example. And listening to Jesus in the gospel of today, we get a new and deeper understanding of peace. He said to his disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.” We see now that peace is a divine gift, which is asked to be open to, and receive freely. So, a world that shuts God out of its affairs cannot know peace! A heart that is not attuned to God cannot be open to peace.
The peace that Jesus gives is different from the worldly understanding of peace. The peace the world gives is that of ‘convenience.’ Sometimes, here peace is reduced to mere tolerance and absence of conflict. The world applauds itself for having achieved peace where peoples’ lives are not in touch with one another, and individuality reigns. In the end, survival of the fittest becomes the order of the day, and the temporary peace vanishes. But the peace that Jesus gives is different.
Jesus offers us peace that goes to the human heart and conquers hatred and division. A peace that is received as a gift, uplifts the hearts and reaches out to the neighbor. Thus, the peace of Christ is the fruit of love and justice. Such a peace does not hide from my neighbor, but it overcomes the barriers of division. This peace that is stronger than human hatred can only come from our union with God.
The silent voice of peace pierces through with great might, yet it conquers hatred, division, and violence with calmness and gentility. Therefore, peace is a major part of our prayer this day, since we look up to Jesus to bestow it upon us as individuals, in our families, our country, and in the world at large. And peace is still our answered prayer today, for Jesus Christ has already given it to us, though we are yet to receive its fullness. Amen.