Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Peace the World Cannot Give

Today's readings from Mass offer us the opportunity to reflect on the gift of peace that Jesus gives his apostles prior to undergoing his passion, crucifixion, and resurrection. No doubt Jesus and his apostles saw the storm clouds gathering on the horizon: he had stirred up the hornet's nest through his message and ministry and there was a price to be paid. The peace that he gifted the apostles with, however, is not to be in any way understood as an "otherworldly" gift of bliss, detached from the messiness of this world nor the coming storm. This would fly directly in the face of the earlier proclamation of John's Gospel that, "God so loved the world that he sent his only son." (John 3:16). The world that God so loved and entered into to save in Jesus would not be one that God now turns his back on. No, what Jesus offers is no "escapist", "pie in the sky", disembodied peace that seeks to flee in the face of so much agony and anguish but one forged directly in and through an intimate experience of the world's travail. What Jesus is offering the disciples is precisely what he came to experience in daring to sink to the depths of the world's misery by associating with the wretched and forsaken of the earth: God's abiding presence laboring to bring about a New Creation. Far from being a gift of blessed, undisturbed repose, this gift of peace is the assurance that if the apostles dare to sink to the depths that Jesus did they will likewise encounter an unparalleled depth of communion with the God who works with a patient restlessness that all creation be utterly transformed. The reason why the "world" (understood as all of those forces allied against God's Kingdom and not the created world) cannot give such a peace is because it's definition of peace is precisely the opposite. The peace of the world is the negation of tension, conflict, or opposition that comes by force of arms, oppression, or the simple, seemingly harmless counsel that the oppressed of the earth accept their lot passively because the next life will bring all that they hoped for in this life but were often brutally denied. For Christ's disciples of the 21st Century, the offer and gift of peace will similarly be experienced only in going to the lengths and depths that he did to trouble the waters of the pseudo peace that so many have begrudgingly or unwittingly settled for. Pat, T.O.R.