At yesterday’s Mass at St. Benedict’s Monastery, the priest focused his homily on two lines in today’s Gospel from St. John: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”
He contrasted the peace the world gives and the peace of Christ with two powerful examples. His first example of the peace the world gives was the family and friends of a murder victim having a tailgate party outside of the prison at which the convicted murderer was being executed. “Now we will finally have some peace,” they say among themselves with joy. What kind of peace is that, he wondered? His second example was politicians claiming after 9/11 that they would hunt down everyone responsible for the act, for then we would have peace. One candidate for office claimed we would hunt Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell in the name of peace. What kind of peace is that?
The peace Jesus offers is not the peace offered by the world. Not a peace based on returning hatred for hate, violence for violence. The peace Jesus offers is a peace based on love. If I respond to a wrong committed against me with love, said the priest, I already have peace. If am steadfast in the love of Christ, nothing can ever take that peace away.
Peace of the world or peace of Christ. Which would you rather have?