Encouragement and Peace

Written by Sr. Rosemary Finnegan, O.P.
Readings from: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/051220.cfm

How many times in the past weeks have we heard stories and seen pictures of our medical personnel and first responders unselfishly serving those who are so very sick among us.  Later, as we watch these patients happily leave the hospitals, they and their families have shared their profound gratitude to these wonderful and brave workers. Many of these recovered patients say that the encouragement they’ve received from these generous people is now, in turn, giving them the strength and inspiration to help others.

I thought of those stories when I read our reading about St. Paul.  He was in the city of Lystra and had just been stoned, dragged out of the city, and thought to be dead.  But, when the disciples gathered around him, Scripture says he got up and reentered the city. The disciples were there to help, support, encourage and care for him, so much so, that Paul then went back to that city where this awful incident had just taken place to continue his ministry.

And in our Gospel, Jesus is encouraging his disciples at the Last Supper.  He knew that troubling times were ahead for them, as we just read in the first reading, and so he is trying to ease their troubled hearts by giving them His gift of peace. Jesus shares with them many consoling thoughts:

  • He will be their way (4-11),
  • send them the Holy Spirit, the Comforter (15-17),
  • leave his gift of peace to them (27),
  • and promises that heaven will be their everlasting rest (2, v. 3).

When Jesus spoke to His disciples about peace, he would have used the Hebrew word “shalom”, which never means simply the absence of trouble.  It means everything which makes for our highest good.  Shalom is complete peace.  It is a feeling of contentment, completeness, wholeness, well-being and harmony.  It is a peace that is independent of all outward circumstances.  It is that shalom that can only come from God.

If ever we needed encouragement, it is during these days.  May we take comfort in the peace and shalom of Christ.  To share in Christ’s peace means to be in the midst of trials and difficulties and still be calm in our heart.  No experience of life can ever take Christ’s peace from us and no sorrow, no danger, or suffering can ever make it less.

May Christ’s peace be with all of us this day, and may we share it with others.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”