Summary: The roles of fear and peace in our lives.
Sixth Sunday of Easter - Year C
May 13th, 2007
* Acts 15:1-2, 22-29
* Rev. 21:10-14, 22-23
* Jn. 14:23-29
Jesus’ Gift of Peace
Sometimes it is a good thing to take a second look at basic realities in our lives. We can either get some new insight into life or at least, we reaffirm what we are already living and thinking. As we think about things, we are forced to bring such realities into the arena of awareness, which is almost always a good thing. So let’s take a brief look at two realities that we all must deal with. Both of these things are mentioned by Jesus in today’s Gospel reading - fear and peace. Fear and peace are basic realities that we all live with, even if we don’t always put our understanding of fear and peace into words.
Two Dinner Plates
Now imagine someone walking up to you carrying two large dinner plates, one in each hand. On one plate is something called good health and on the other plate is bad health. The person then asks you to choose between good health and bad health. We wouldn’t have to think very long about that decision, would we? Most of us, at least those of us in our right mind, would choose good health.
Now imagine if that same person approaches you carrying those same two dinner plates, but this time there is something different on the plates. One plate is filled with all kinds of sweets and foods that have saturated fats, trans-fats, sugar and preservatives in them. But those foods look so delicious and we know that they also taste delicious. The other plate is filled with fruits and vegetables. Now, we know that fruits and vegetables are good for us, but they don’t look half as good as that other plate. Which would you choose?
Actually, we know that in our daily lives we often choose the wrong foods. But when we make those wrong choices, probably not too many are thinking, "I’m making a choice for bad health". But the consequence of constantly choosing the wrong foods means that we are choosing bad health. So even though we rejected choosing bad health when we saw those two plates the first time, we often do end up choosing it.
Two More Plates
Keep that image in mind. Now what would you do if someone came up to you with two plates. On one was fear and on the other plate was peace. Which would you choose? Once again, most of us would choose peace.
But if that same person came along with two different plates and on one plate was attaining success, looking good, making money, being popular, being right, controlling life, and other such things, and, on the other plate, we found prayer, sacrifice, commitment, caring for others, humility, selflessness, which would we choose? Perhaps, we would be caught between the two plates, not knowing which one to take. So instead we would take some things from each plate.
Just as we often choose the wrong foods to nourish ourselves with, so we often choose those things which can lead to fear. This is so because fear is most often associated with losing things. If our looks, our name, our security, our finances are the most important things in our life, then when we perceive that any of them are threatened, fear arises within us. And so, even though we would not choose fear if it was offered to us directly, we often choose what can lead to fear. None of us would choose fear, and yet our choices often take us down the fearful road.
Instead, the risen Jesus offers us peace. "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid."
Choices Lead Somewhere
I know that the illustration I gave to you is a simple one and does not contain the whole truth. But it does hold a certain truth that most of us will be in agreement with. Choices have consequences. Our food choices bring specific results, and our life choices also bring specific results. If we ignore this fact, then we will surely suffer. We will suffer physically if we continually choose the wrong foods, and we will suffer spiritually if we continually make the wrong life choices.
As Christians, the more we put on the mind and heart of Christ, the more we will make the choices that bring peace rather than fear. And prayer is an absolutely necessary road we need to take if we are to imitate Jesus Christ. Nothing external can give us the peace we so desire. It is only when we are able to fully welcome our Lord into our lives that we will finally know what peace really means. Jesus has been making this offer of a peace that the world cannot give for a long time now. May each of us have the willingness and courage to accept it.