PEACE IN THE CHURCH
We can read in John’s Gospel a series of discourses in which Jesus is saying goodbye to his disciples. The commentaries call it “The Farewell Discourse.” One can feel there is something very special in the air: the disciples are afraid of being left without their Teacher, while Jesus, for his part, insists that they will never feel his absence in spite of his departure.
He repeats to them up to five times that they can count on the Holy Spirit. The Spirit will defend them, since the Spirit will keep them faithful to Jesus’ message and his project. That is why he calls him the Spirit of the truth. At some point, Jesus explains to them better what will be the Spirit’s task: The Advocate, the Holy Spirit … will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you. This Spirit will be the living memory of Jesus.
The horizon that he offers his disciples is expansive. Jesus will give birth to a great spiritual movement of men and women disciples who will follow him. The Holy Spirit will be their Advocate. They will remain in his truth, for this Spirit will teach them everything that Jesus has been communicating with them as they walked along the roads of Galilee. The Spirit will defend them in the future from confusion and cowardice.
Jesus wants them to grasp well what the Spirit of the truth and Advocate will mean for them: Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. He does not just wish them peace. He gives it to them as a gift. If they live guided by his Spirit, remembering and keeping his words, they will know peace.
It is not just any peace. It is his peace. That is why he tells them: Not as the world gives do I give it to you. We do not build Jesus’ peace by making use of strategies that are inspired by lies or injustice, but by acting with the Spirit of truth. They need to be firmly grounded in Spirit: Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.
In these difficult times when we are suffering discredit and confusion in the Church, it would be a serious mistake to try to defend our credibility and moral authority by acting without the Spirit of the truth promised by Jesus. Fear will keep penetrating Christianity if we seek to establish our security and our peace by distancing ourselves from the path he laid down.
When the Church loses peace, she cannot recover it in just any manner. Just any strategy is not useful either. It is not possible to bring in Jesus’ peace when our hearts are full of resentment and blindness. With repentance and humility, we need to turn to Jesus’ truth and mobilize all our strength in order to walk away from wrong paths and allow the Spirit that animated Jesus’ whole life to guide us.
May 1, 2016
6th Sunday of Easter (C)
John 14, 23-29