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Peace the World Cannot Give

First Reading: Acts 14:19-28

In those days, some Jews from Antioch and Iconium
arrived and won over the crowds.
They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city,
supposing that he was dead.
But when the disciples gathered around him,
he got up and entered the city.
On the following day he left with Barnabas for Derbe.

After they had proclaimed the good news to that city
and made a considerable number of disciples,
they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch.
They strengthened the spirits of the disciples
and exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying,
“It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships
to enter the Kingdom of God.”
They appointed presbyters for them in each Church and,
with prayer and fasting, commended them to the Lord
in whom they had put their faith.
Then they traveled through Pisidia and reached Pamphylia.
After proclaiming the word at Perga they went down to Attalia.
From there they sailed to Antioch,
where they had been commended to the grace of God
for the work they had now accomplished.
And when they arrived, they called the Church together
and reported what God had done with them
and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.
Then they spent no little time with the disciples.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 145:10-11, 12-13AB, 21

R. (see 12) Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your kingdom
and speak of your might.
R. Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Making known to men your might
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is a kingdom for all ages,
and your dominion endures through all generations.
R. Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
May my mouth speak the praise of the LORD,
and may all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.
R. Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your kingdom.

Gospel: John 14:27-31A

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
Not as the world gives do I give it to you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.
You heard me tell you,
‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’
If you loved me,
you would rejoice that I am going to the Father;
for the Father is greater than I.
And now I have told you this before it happens,
so that when it happens you may believe.
I will no longer speak much with you,
for the ruler of the world is coming.
He has no power over me,
but the world must know that I love the Father
and that I do just as the Father has commanded me.”

NAB

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Seven hundred and ninety eight million Google results can’t be wrong—searching for lasting peace appears to be nearly as common to the human experience as seeking authentic love.

We’ve been told that if we want peace, all we have to do is fill in the blank with grand-sounding axioms: work for justice; love our family; love ourselves; prepare for war; stop fighting.

More specifically, we’re encouraged by society to buy these products, own that house, follow this career path, live in that neighborhood, have these friends, follow this eating plan, use that parenting philosophy, go on those vacations . . . and we’ll experience real “peace.”

When the world promises peace with the shiny allure of “satisfaction guaranteed” antidotes, the implication is that all our problems will be solved, suffering will be erased, and we’ll never encounter conflict or pain again. Only, as we’ve all experienced, the promised results rarely (if ever) materialize. Suffering and pain remain.

Personally, I don’t believe achieving genuine peace can be attained by following a bumper sticker-ready slogan or purchasing the latest gadget or getaway. Odds are, as a woman of faith, you don’t believe it, either.

In Saint John’s Gospel, Jesus not only offers peace, He offers His peace. Jesus is quick to differentiate between His peace and the peace the world promises, encouraging His followers: “do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”

Amazingly, Christ’s words come soon before He is brutally tortured and murdered, and still He whole-heartedly encourages His followers to stay the course and prepare for what’s to come. Jesus has confidence that, despite great pain and suffering, simply trusting in and following the will of His Heavenly Father will bring about the ultimate good.

Perhaps you’ve come to realize that peace—true peace—has nothing to do with the absence of suffering or discomfort and everything to do with trusting in God’s plan and the hope for Heaven. Or maybe, like me, you’re still working on trusting God with complete abandon. Whichever the case may be, Jesus is waiting for you to ask Him for the peace that surpasses understanding.

Dear Lord, when the storms of this world rage, please help me remember that You did not come to bring comfort to this world but to open the doors to complete freedom with You in the next. I believe You want to bring me Your peace, Lord. Please help my disbelief. Amen. 

Heather Renshaw is a writer, speaker, and uplifter on a mission to love and serve God with her husband and five children in the Pacific NW. You can learn more about her here.

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