6th Sunday of Easter C - Homily 3

 Homily 3 - 2019

"My gift to you”, said Jesus to us, is “a peace that the world cannot give”. That got me thinking, and asking myself, What might the “world’s” description of peace be? What came to mind was: absence of hostilities, no credible threats of terrorism, reasonable prosperity into the foreseeable future, harmony in the family, and in the community generally, manageable health…

I started to look at that, and it occurred to me that it was quite “me” focussed. So, I thought, it might also involve a similar experience for my family, my friends, too – though less so. I think that for some, peace might also involve the absence of gross suffering of others, at least when unmerited. Depending, of course, on people’s capacity “to weep” [as Pope Francis once commented]. Would it affect our sleep, or, as Jesus said, “trouble our hearts”?

If most of the “world” would agree with that, then what might be the peace that Jesus wants to give us? Would it really be worth worrying about? or just some sort of 'post-graduate’ Christianity? In today’s Gospel, Jesus also said, “Those who love me will keep my word”. What did he have in mind by “keep my word”? What does it suggest to you? Something like: Keep my commandments? Obey me blindly? To me it says something more – like: Think over what I have said; take seriously what I have shared; try to apply it to my concrete situation.

I think that the outcome of seriously “keeping his word” is that, eventually, we don’t keep it merely because he said it, but because it begins to ‘sit right’ with our our own true self. It makes sense with us; it resonates with our own authentic humanity. Probably that is what Jesus was talking about when he said, “My word is not my own; it is the word of the one who sent me”. He had become totally convinced himself of what the Father wanted of him, almost without having to think hard about it at all – it had become ‘second nature’.

If we are to apply his word to our world of the twenty-first century – in a culture so different from that of Jesus’ time – his word needs to have become, somehow, ‘second nature’ to us. For that to happen, I believe that I need firstly to want, and try, to get to know him well, to get inside him, sort of, and to attune my heart to his. Jesus realized this. That is why he reassured us that, in this project, “the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you”. We don’t have to do it alone. And for me, that means spending time with Jesus, with and through and in his Spirit, in quiet prayer and meditation.

What might the outcome of all that be? And how is it relevant to Jesus’ gift of peace to us. When we take his word seriously, we begin to extend our vision beyond self-interest to include equally the interests of others, of all others. We balance personal rights with equal responsibilities. In Social Justice terms, in a continually globalizing world, the mind of Jesus directs us beyond personal and national interests to a true concern, as well, for the common good – for the common good of our global village.

We have just had our Federal Election. Sadly, politicians, of whatever persuasion, rarely move beyond what they think the electorate wants. We seem to lack true statespeople who can educate their electorates to broaden our horizons and to reach out to all in need, even though it will inevitably cost something. As disciples of Jesus, our commission remains what it always was: somehow to sensitise ourselves and others to the priority of love, of respect, of non-violence.

That is the only way to the peace with which Jesus wants to gift us, indeed, to saturate and delight us.