Thursday, October 25, 2007

Peace is my gift to you

"Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division." (Luke 12)

In the final day of our parish mission yesterday, Fr. John, as he was preparing us for the Anointing of the Sick said, "I guarantee that everyone who receives the sacrament will be healed. We may not, however, be cured." His statement was a great reminder of the fact that sometimes there is a difference between what God is offering us and what we expect to receive. God does not always cure us in the way we want or expect to be cured; but He does always offer us His healing.

I was thinking of this statement as I medidated on our Gospel passage from Luke today. Jesus says, "Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division." What can He possibly mean by this? Is it possible that we have somehow misunderstood the whole point of the Prince of Peace? I don't think so, but I think what is going on here is that, much like Fr. John's quote about healing, we are looking for something different than what Jesus is offering.

I think a quote from another of the Gospels can help us make sense of this passage. In John's Gospel, Jesus says, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you." (John 14.27) In this we see that Jesus is not in fact the Prince of Division as the Luke passage might, on its surface, let us believe. They key is that Jesus says, "Not as the world gives peace." In other words, if you thought that the peace that Jesus gives will lead to a life that has no stress, no troubles, no illness, no conflict - then you may have been expecting something different than what Jesus was offering.

What you can expect from the peace of Christ is the ability to handle any of these things that may come your way; all of which are a part of a little thing we call life. What you can expect from the peace of Christ that is the gift He gives us is the comforting knowledge that if you follow His way, you will enter into the joy of His Kingdom.

What sometimes happens, though, when we follow Jesus is that those who may be around us who have not yet embraced the Lord, may find it hard to accept the newness of our life. And so, there may be division even between father and son, mother and daughter, etc.

I have shared my own vocation story enough for you to know that mine was an Amazing Grace conversion: I once was lost, but now I am found. Well, upon being found, one of the things that I experienced was that a good number of the friends I was "lost" with could not accept the working of Jesus in my life and those relationships ended. I pray for each of them every day and hope that God will touch their lives as well.

Jesus wants us to live in His peace; and to share that peace with the world - a peace that gives us the strength and ability to handle what ever comes our way in life and to be comforted in the knowledge that our God is with us and will lead us to His Heavenly Kingdom.

May God give you peace!

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