“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27).
Last Sunday, Jesus gave us a new command; to love others not just as we love ourselves but as He loved us. Today, Jesus continues His sermon on love and prepares our minds for the Holy Spirit, the Counsellor, the Teacher and Reminder. Jesus also announces His Peace to us; a peace so different from what the world offers; a peace capable of settling our minds when we are faced with trouble. An example of this trouble is what we find in our first reading. The early Christian community which had been founded on love was disrupted by certain men who preached circumcision as the yardstick of salvation. How did the disciples resolve this crisis? What lessons do we learn from this experience? What do our readings say with regards to our present situation today?
It is Easier to Obey God when we Love Him.
Once upon a time, a young man noticed a lady on jeans carrying a 50litre gallon of water and struggling with it. Without the lady asking for his help, he immediately ran to her, took the can from her, placed it on his head and asked where she was going. The young man did not complain for a minute, but kept smiling despite the heavy weight. When they got to the lady’s house, she told him she can handle it from there, but he insisted he must take it to her room which was on the third floor. She continued thanking him as they ascended the stairs.
Things quickly turned around when the young man stepped into her room and surprisingly saw her husband who continued the litany of thanks for being such a Good Samaritan. When this young man confirmed that the lady he helped was actually married, he became so angry that instead of dropping the water, he returned it to the very spot where he had picked it from, fuming profusely. Now the question is: How did he manage to carry that heavy load without complaining in the first place?
Jesus tells us today: “If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me does not keep my words” (John 14:23-24). Do you consider God’s words as a burden to you? Are you seriously struggling with sin? It simply means you do not love God, for when we love someone, nothing is too difficult to do for him or her and no sacrifice is beyond our capacity for him or her.
Lesson Two: Why We Need the Holy Spirit.
In the letter addressed to the Gentile community concerning the heretical doctrine of circumcision, the Apostles noted: “For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from unchastity. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well” (Acts 15:28-29). Simply put, the Apostles were only able to resolve this crisis because of the intervention of the Holy Spirit. Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as the Counsellor meaning adviser, comforter, helper in times of trouble, one who speaks on one’s side; an advocate, one who pleads on one’s behalf. Secondly, the Holy Spirit is the teacher who makes us understand all that Christ has said and gives us deeper insight into the very Word of God and how we must apply that Word practically in our daily lives.
Thirdly, the Holy Spirit helps us remember God’s word especially in moments of trial when the truth is needed. For instance in Luke 12:11-12, we read: “And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious how or what you are to answer or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” Dear friends, let us begin our novenas to the Holy Spirit that we may be found worthy to receive a fresh outpouring once again.
The Peace of Christ is God Dwelling in Us.
As Jesus tells us: “if a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” Dear friends, what could be better than having God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit dwelling right inside you? Indeed, when God is indwelling in us, the result we get is peace; a peace which the world cannot offer. Do you know that the word Peace comes from the Greek word eirene which means “to bind together”? To be at peace is to be bound, woven and joined together with God.
This peace is one that makes us calm even when we face bad circumstances and situations. Without mincing words, things have really gone bad in our nation today. Many are now comparing us with Rwanda just before the genocide. We hear rumours of gun licence revocation. We hear that a radio station has been established just to serve one tribe (Fulani) in a nation of over 400 tribes. We also hear that an alleged 100billion naira was paid to the terrorists and armed bandits who now specialize in kidnapping people along our highways. In every single community today, we are surrounded by herdsmen who freely carry around sophisticated weapons enough to wipe out the whole communities at the slighted provocation.
In the midst of all these frightening news and rumours, let us not forget the words of Jesus: “In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). To anyone who is afraid, Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel passage are worth repeating again and again: “Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
Yes, our leaders have failed us woefully. They have surrendered our nation and its sovereignty to a group of terrorists, but as our psalmist sings: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4). Let them gather, God will surely fight for His Children.