A decade or so ago my wife, her parents, and I took a tour through Germany and the Czech Republic. We visited many cultural and historical sites including Ceceilenhof in Potsdam just outside of Berlin. In May 1945 leaders of the USA, the UK, and Soviet Russia met at that palace to bring order to postwar Europe and to talk about peace.
The Allied Powers and the Axis Powers needed a peace treaty to stop the war which devastated much of Europe when so many lives were lost.
In today’s gospel reading Jesus told his disciples that he would give them peace and it would be a peace which the world could not give. The peace Christ gives is everlasting. It is divine. It cuts through fears and dangers and nothing can destroy it – not even the powers of this earth.
The peace which the world offers through political means can be temporary. It can be fleeting. It may not last. We need only look at the Middle East where wars continue to be fought after periods of peace between nations. There is a civil war in Syria. There are terrorists who bring war to Afghanistan. Israel and Palestine are in constant conflict. Who knows when there will be lasting peace in these countries of the world?
When Jesus spoke these words in the first century the Roman world was in the midst of the Pax Romana where peace lasted in the empire for about 200 years. So Jesus’ disciples would have had known about a kind of political peace where wars with foreign countries had come to standstill.
But I wonder what the disciples thought about the peace Jesus offered? Jesus was not in political office so he could not offer a political peace. Perhaps the disciples thought about peace in terms of absence of conflict or no inner turmoil or no wrestling with one’s conscience.
But the peace Jesus offered was connected with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit would lead them into all truth. The Holy Spirit would keep them faithful to their Lord. The Holy Spirit would so fill their hearts and minds to let them know that God would never leave or forsake them no matter what they had to face in the future. There is true peace in that promise.
So, too, with us. Christ gives us this same peace. It is an everlasting peace. It is a peace which assures us that in this broken and sinful world God is on our side and will protect us. The Holy Spirit will so fill us with the peace the world cannot give.
In just a few weeks I will once again face major surgery. That brings some fear and doubt in my life. Will the surgery be successful? How will I adjust after the surgery is over? What will my life be like?
As I face surgery, I must rely on the words and promises of Jesus Christ. He gives me the peace which the world cannot give. So, too, you can rely on this gift of divine peace.
Thanks be to God!