Not As The World Gives It
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25 “I have spoken these things to you while I am with you. 26 The Companion, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I told you. 27 “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. I give to you not as the world gives. Don’t be troubled or afraid. 28 You have heard me tell you, ‘I’m going away and returning to you.’ If you loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than me. 29 I have told you before it happens so that when it happens you will believe. 30 I won’t say much more to you because this world’s ruler is coming. He has nothing on me. 31 Rather, he comes so that the world will know that I love the Father and do just as the Father has commanded me. Get up. We’re leaving this place.
John 14 happens as the disciples are sharing an evening meal with Jesus. He knows that the time of the crucifixion is fast approaching and that he will leave his disciples to their own devices soon. That is why he uses this time as a teachable moment, where he has a captive audience for his words to be remembered.
The words that you heard are part of the reaffirming words that will give the disciples the reassurance that they won’t be left as orphans. God, our parent, will send the Companion, the Holy Spirit that will teach them everything and will remind them of everything that Jesus has taught them. And after he tells them this, he says: “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. I give to you not as the world gives. Don’t be troubled or afraid.”
As I hear these familiar words, I focus on the phrase “I give to you not as the world gives it.” Why do you think Jesus makes this clarification? What do you think he means?
I think that Jesus invites us to be always of the lookout for the way things are defined in the world around us. We know that peace has been defined, for example as meaning that we have to accept things as they are, and that we should not express indignation or even rage. We know that peace has been used to silence and sometimes to oppress. We know that the way some governments of the world look for peace is through war. And we know that peace has been invoked to tell women that they are being to emotional and that they should control their feelings… and so… we know that there are definitions of peace that the world has given… and that are not necessarily the peace that Jesus is speaking about.
Osvaldo Vena in his commentary on this passage reminds us that the peace that Jesus gives contrasts sharply with the world’s peace. John is probably thinking about the Pax Romana, a peace established with domination, oppression and violence. Therefore, Jesus is stating, without any doubt, that this is not the kind of peace he gives or lives by.
Therefore… after a very anxious week, I want to challenge you today to keep your eyes open in search for meanings and definitions. And I want to do it, using the words that Edna included in her peace pole, because they seem like good instructions for us today.
Reflect: Ask questions. What are the lessons that, for example, this election, can give us? What does the process say about peace? About justice? About love? About how those things are available, not just for those that have resources and stability in their lives, but for those that are poor, that are part of marginalized populations? Is this the kind of peace that Jesus talks about?
Change: If after asking questions you notice that your definition of peace is challenged… then change is needed… even if it means that you need to change the way you live, the way you go about relating to others, and the way you talk and act. Open your mind and heart to flexibility and change.
Participate: Find others that are not part of your bubble to have conversations about their definitions of peace and of justice. Sometimes you will find that those definitions make you uncomfortable… and that is a good thing. I know that we are tired, but there is no time to retreat. Don’t shut down! Participate. Remember that, even if your life does not depend on it… other people’s lives do… Literally!
Care:… Care… Care… Care… Care… Care… and care some more. Apathy has no business in God’s kin-dom.
Respect: Even when someone does not think like you, talk like you, dress like you, live like you or love like you. As someone that I respect said “When they go low, we go high”. Respect is all about that… about seeing each other as human beings that are fallible, that are worthy, that are not perfect, that are deserving of humanity and not demonization.
Heal: In this world of COVID, we think about physical healing and that is very important. But having peace is also healing. War is devastating. Oppression hurts the human soul in such a way that it can destroy life. Peace heals! Working for a peace that means wellness for others is important. Working for a peace that gives rights to others is important. Working for peace as a way to eliminate the sin of trying to solve everything with war is healing… in a world that really needs to be healed.
Believe: And this is the last one. Believe in the peace that Jesus is offering. Have faith in it. Find hope in it. Believe that the kin-dom of God, that the family of God is a real possibility and choice for this world. Believe, even when it seems bleak, that light and hope are possible. Believe! Believe! Believe! And live with the assurance, with the trust, with the unwavering knowledge that Jesus’ promises of a Holy Spirit that will never leave us and his gift of a peace that is wellness and abundance for all… will be with us today… and forever. Amen.