John Chapter 14, verse 27
I have vivid memories of a Saturday night in October of 1970. I was scheduled to preach the following morning. It was during the height of what came to be known as the Quebec October Crisis. My homily was typed and ready for the next day and I was reading in bed before going to sleep, when over the radio came the paralysing news that the body of Pierre Laporte, a minister of the government, had been found in the trunk of a car. As federal and provincial leaders hurriedly met to express their horror and to shore up defences, I tore up my homily and went back to the typewriter. My task was made easier in that the Gospel text to be read that day was the same one that we have just heard...
"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."
Never had these words seemed so meaningful to me. Many a time since those sad days, whenever desperate, angry people in every part of the world have lashed out in violent attack, counter-attack and reprisal, the words of Jesus have come back to me, "A peace the world cannot give is my gift to you."
At this very moment, terrorism, the fruit of injustice and frustration, of jealousy and fear, of misplaced zeal and loyalty, is being answered with guns and bombs and this is in turn being met with increasing waves of terrorism and all in the name of peace and justice.
At the core of most social unrest is injustice seeking a solution. Sometimes the solution is far from being obvious and even when it is clearly seen it is usually demanding of considerable sacrifice from more than one of the parties concerned. To successfully arbitrate some of these conflicts of interest, the Palestinian / Israeli, for example, would require great wisdom and sensitivity on the part of the arbitrators and abundant good will on the part of the opposing parties, not to mention the full cooperation of the world's major powers. It would call for a large-scale super-human effort with the common good as the focal point. We have never even come close. The established way of history is war. Survival of the fittest.
I have this fantasy of the politicians, dictators, and generals of the world all gathered together in a room on the top floor of the U.N. None of them knows how he or she got there. You see they were all pursuing their individual schedules when suddenly they were miraculously transported and now, here they are in the same room. No briefing binders, no staff.
Jesus enters. None of them recognize Him. No one saw Him come in. But each of them is possessed of a deepening sense of the supernatural.
"Peace, a peace you cannot attain. You have not yet attained, will never attain, deserve not to attain...but cannot attain, is my gift to you!" And before they can say anything, He continues, "Do you want it? Are you willing to respect, to trust, to share, to bury the past, to listen to your people, to listen to the voice of Allah, of Jehovah, of God? To accept the universal dignity of the human person, to treat extreme indigence and vulnerability as an evil and wealth and power as a sacred trust, to lead by placing goodness and truth before political gain...?"
But before He can go any further, I see His hands being bound, His mouth being taped. I see them reaching for the hammer and the nails and the cross...again!
He alone offers us the gift of peace...real peace. Do we want it? I don't honestly know. What I do know is that truly grounded peace, whether in our hearts, homes, offices, schools, cities, nations or world, has but one unique source. Jesus Christ. And nothing can ever change that universal reality.