Peace is a beautiful gift of God and He intended the human kind to live in peace with one another and with the whole creation. (cfr. Isa. 11. 6-9).
The angels announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds thus: “Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth to men of good will” (Lk.2:14). Only when we give glory to God through our lives, can we experience the peace of God. The coming of Jesus into the world was an assurance of peace to people of good will. In the gospels we see Jesus greeting people with peace on many occasions. To the woman who was healed of haemorrhage, Jesus said: “Your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering” (5:34). It was her faith in Jesus that healed her and relieved her of her sufferings and gave her peace.
As it was time for Jesus to leave the disciples, He knew they were disheartened and hence in his farewell discourse, He told them: “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” (Jn 14.27). When Jesus appeared to the Apostles after His Resurrection, again He greeted them: “Peace be with you” (Jn 20. 19,21, 26).
The living and loving God reads the pangs of our innermost self and He always offers His peace. The peace that Jesus gives is not just the absence of unrest or violence. It is much more positive; it takes away our anxiety, fear and worry. Nothing can take us from the peace of Christ – no sorrow, no danger , no suffering can make it less. It is internal. It is the experience of the possession of all the blessings of God; the possession of God Himself. As Prophet Micah writes: “And He will be their peace” (5.5). “Jesus is our peace” (Eph 2.14). So it is not an abstract idea, but the very person of Jesus. The peace of Christ is part of our ‘life in Christ’. So Jesus said: “I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace” (Jn. 16.33). The world may persecute us, as Jesus pointed out, still we can have the peace of Christ.
We need to have peace with God, with ourselves and with one another. Jesus, the Prince of Peace, was always in perfect peace with God the Father, with Himself and with others as He was living the word of the Father, which He was proclaiming: “The word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me” (Jn. 14.24). In fact every one of us yearns for peace. But we see around us that many are bereft of this peace. Through Prophet Baruch God is pointing out the reason why we do not experience this peace. “If you had walked in the way of God, you would be living in peace forever” (3.13). If I do not have this peace ‘forever’ it is because I do not walk in the way of God; the logic is as simple as that. God is ever faithful to His word. “God is not a human being that He should lie, or a mortal, that He should change His mind. Has He promised, and will He not do it? Has He spoken, and will not fulfil it?” (Num. 23.19). Jesus is ‘the way, the truth and the life’ (Jn 14.6), and when I live His way, I am not far from the experience of peace. God’s way is selflessness, forgiving love, humble service to one another, considering others better than ourselves (Phil 2.3), respecting human life etc. When our way is not such, when we live in selfishness, bitterness and anger, not considering the dignity of our life or that of others, craving for name and fame…it is but natural that we experience lack of peace within. “Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace, in peace because they trust in you” (Is 26.3.).
St.Paul tells about ‘the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding’ (Phil 4.7). What does it mean? When I enjoy ‘all good things of the world’, like love and appreciation from everyone, success in my career, good health etc, I may be able to experience peace, which the ‘world can understand’; where as if I am deprived of all these ‘good things of the world’, when people reject me, misunderstand me; when I face problems in my career, financial crisis, health problem etc, I am still in peace and serenity of heart, ‘the world cannot understand’ that. The onlookers may ask me: “How can you be in peace when you have so many problems?” Yes, this is the peace which surpasses all understanding, and only in God I can experience such peace. Quite rightly St.Augustine has said: “Our heart is created for you O Lord, and until it finds Thee, it is not at rest”. As St.Paul tells: “To set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace” (Rom 8.6).
“If you, even you, had only recognised on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes” (Lk 19.42). Lord, open our eyes to recognise the truth about what will bring us your peace and what will take away your peace from our lives.
“The inner peace is a fruit of the union of the human will with the divine will. It is achieved through the body of Christ, in its worship, prayer and Sacramental life. Baptism joins us with the whole body of Christ and is a commitment to discipleship in all its implications” (Bishop Richard Harries: ‘Questioning Belief’)
After the final blessing of the Holy Eucharist, the Priest sends us forth with a mission: “The Mass is ended; go in peace (in the peace of Christ).”. We, the faithful respond: “Thanks be to God”. We thank the Lord for the gift of peace which we received while participating in the Holy Eucharist; through listening the readings,and ‘breaking of the Word; then by receiving the Lord in the Holy Eucharist, we become one with the Prince of Peace. As At.Paul tells: “It is no longer I, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2.20). We go back to our home, place of work with this peace of Christ, and with a changed attitude through hearing the Word which enables us to live in peace with one another and with every situation, however hard that may be.