By Fr. Frank Timar, M.S.C.
Time was running out for Jesus. He had less than twenty-four hours to live. Knowing that His death was imminent, Jesus took stock of His estate and willed it to those whom He loved. His material possessions were few. Apparently, He owned nothing but His clothes. So what did He have that was worth leaving to others?
He did not leave even a single penny to anyone. But what He did leave His followers is something all the money in the world can’t buy or produce. His last will read as follows: “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” (John 14:27). The operative word here is “Peace,” but it is expressed more completely by the word “Shalom.” It’s not just anticipating a fine day. Rather, it is living each day with the sense of wholeness and justice and, yes, care of the poor.
That’s how Jesus lived. One of His distinguishing qualities was the serenity with which He moved through life. He was under the constant scrutiny of hostile critics. He was often misunderstood, even by His closest friends. He was poor and homeless. He was falsely accused. On several occasions, His life was threatened by an angry mob, once even in His own home town. And through all this, His serenity was unshaken. Though His enemies frustrated Him at times, He was never frightened by them. Whatever the circumstances, He faced everything with uncommon composure.
This is what Jesus wanted for His disciples. We desperately want this for ourselves and we would like to share it with those we love. Obviously, a serene spirit cannot be handed down to future generations like the deed to a house or the title to a car. The greatest gifts cannot be shared that way. Each person is given the grace to acknowledge and accept the gift of peace from Jesus, the Prince of Peace.
“Each person is given the grace to acknowledge and accept the gift of peace from Jesus, the Prince of Peace.”
Peace of heart can never co-exist with a troubled conscience. The two are not compatible. Even those we call saintly people would be unwilling to reveal their lives completely. We all have secrets that we hope to keep secret to the end of our days. But there is a solution for that. It’s called forgiveness. The good news is that we do not have to carry around a burden of guilt. Whatever our sins have been, Jesus stands ready to forgive them. That’s our starting point if we want to receive His gift of peace.
“Jesus’ gift of peace is not an escape from the hard knocks of life.”
The Christian faith is a stimulus, not a sedative. It is definitely not designed to keep us comfortable in the midst of a suffering world. Jesus’ gift of peace is not an escape from the hard knocks of life. The people who have true serenity are those who are engaged in the business of making this a better world. Throughout each day, they struggle with some difficult problems. But, at night, they lie down to a peaceful sleep!