Achieve the peace Jesus gives us

By Fr. Jack Treloar, SJ | For The Compass | May 22, 2022

This week’s Gospel is a short section from the last discourse of Jesus presented in the Gospel according to John. The whole discourse is about three chapters long; John thought Jesus’ teaching was worth giving in detail. In our reading this week from Chapter 14, Jesus says to his disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you” (Jn. 14:27). What is the peace Jesus gives to us? What is the peace the world gives?

We are currently experiencing a terrible conflict in Ukraine. Property is obliterated. People are slaughtered, tortured and displaced. There certainly is no peace in that poor country, but this tragedy shows us how the world gives and takes away peace. Worldly peace is at best an armed truce. This truce can be broken at the whims of a ruler, and many people suffer. Jesus promises that the peace he offers will not be transitory or at the caprice of a few powerful people.

If we want the true peace offered by Jesus, we must look at the wealth of his instructions concerning how we should treat each other. The Gospels are filled with this teaching and many other stories showing his followers how to achieve the peace he gives us. In all of this teaching, we must realize that Jesus’ peace means giving up some of our ego and our rights. It also means that we must look to the welfare of others.

Contemplating the Beatitudes shows us how to live a life of peace in the Lord. For example, Jesus says, “Blessed are the merciful for they shall be shown mercy” (Mt. 5:7). Pope Francis says in “On the Call to Holiness in Today’s World” that “Mercy has two aspects. It involves giving, helping and serving others, but it also includes forgiveness and understanding” (par. 80). If we are merciful toward the people in our lives, we impart to them the peace that Jesus gives to all his disciples. Mercy of its very nature means we look out for the good of others. In this caring, we also move away from exaggerated self-interest and concern for our rights.

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, we see the beatitude regarding mercy revealed by means of a story that captures giving up self-interest and caring for another person. The Samaritan was the only one who stopped to care for the victim of the robbery. By his actions, he had to forgive people who treated Samaritans as outcasts. He had to adjust his understanding to the primary need of a person who was almost dead.

These two brief examples show us how to move away from the notion of peace as armed truce and approach it as an authentic gift from Jesus that never disappears once we share it with others.

Fr. Treloar, an assistant director at Jesuit Retreat House, Oshkosh, has served as a professor, lecturer, author and academic administrator.

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