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May 16, 2004

Keeping the Word, Keeping the Peace

(John 14: 23-29)

Next week we celebrate the Ascension of Jesus, and the following week, the feast of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit comes upon the apostles and sends them out into the world. In this beautiful Gospel, Jesus says the Holy Spirit will teach us everything! I would like to reflect with you about two great teachings in this beautiful Gospel, about keeping the Word and keeping the Peace.

First, Jesus says, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and God will love them, and we will come to them and make our dwelling with them.” This is so beautiful. We are invited to love Jesus, and the Gospel says that the best way to do this is to keep his Word. So I encourage you to read a little of the Gospels every day, to become familiar with the Word, so you can keep it, to become immersed in the Word of God.

We know what the Word of Jesus is. It’s a specific message: “Love one another, love your neighbors, be as compassionate as God, do not judge anyone, put down the sword, forgive seventy times seven times, seek first God’s reign and God’s justice, love your enemies.” That’s the Word. If we are to keep his Word, we have to disregard all the false words of the world, all the lies and hypocrisy of the culture, the government, the military and the media.

The Gospel says, if we love him, if we keep his Word, and live according to it, over time, the Word will shape us and we will live like Jesus and really follow him, and God will come to us and dwell inside us. So your job is to be “Keepers of the Word” and to let God live in us!

Second, the Gospel calls us not only to be Keepers of the Word of Jesus, but Keepers of the Peace of Jesus. “Peace I leave you,” he says, “My peace I give you.” This is the most important thing Jesus wants to give us. He says this at the last supper, on the night before he dies, and then again when he rises from the dead. The world knows nothing of his peace, and we too may have a heard time living in peace. We are busy, we have many worries, we’re sick or we have problems with our families or at work or at school, but we have one moment when we are all at peace: when we come to receive communion. When we come forward to receive communion, we are calm, quiet, humbled, peaceful, ready to receive Jesus, and for a moment, we are centered and at peace in communion with Jesus, who comes to dwell within us. I think when Jesus says he gives us his peace, that he wants us to live the rest of our day like that, centered in that moment of communion with him, indeed, to live every day in that moment of communion, in that moment of peace with him, in fact, to live the rest of our lives in that sacred moment of communion so that from now on we are always centered in his peace. And I think it’s possible; it just takes concentration, dedication, mindfulness, prayer, nonviolence, and community.

And if we take this further, if we live in communion with him everyday, centered every day in his peace, we also live in communion with one another and we are at peace with one another and every one around us and everyone in town and everyone in the whole world.

That is why violence and war and nuclear weapons and bombing the children of Iraq are not of God. They are a violation of the Word of God. They are a rejection of Jesus’ gift of peace. They are anti-peace, anti-Eucharist, anti-communion. They divide us, separate us, and destroy us, whereas Jesus is trying to unite us, heal us, and reconcile us.

So my hope and prayer is that we might all love Jesus by keeping his Word, keeping his Peace, and living in communion with him and one another, and when we do this, he says we never have to let our hearts be troubled or afraid again. Instead, we can rejoice not only because Jesus is going to God’s reign in heaven but as Keepers of the Word and Keepers of the Peace of Christ, God is coming to dwell within us.




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