The Peace of Christ

Reading from:

As I drive by the residence halls of Rollins these days on my way to work, I’m seeing more and more U-Haul trucks appear.  It’s the season of graduation and good-byes, mixed emotions and farewell wishes.

In our gospel today, we’re in the midst of hearing Jesus’ farewell words to his friends at the Last Supper as he shares his last thoughts with them before his passion and death.  We hear of the gift he’s giving to them, and to us, the gift of peace. Christ’s words to his disciples are intended to keep trouble from their hearts.  Judas has just left, and the rest were sad when Jesus said he was leaving them. Jesus, who wants to comfort them then, promises his peace to them and shares with them many consoling thoughts:

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

When Jesus spoke to His disciples about peace, he would have used the Hebrew word “shalom”, saying, “Shalom I leave with you, My shalom I give to you…” The word “leave” here actually means “bequeath”, the way a wealthy person bequeaths their estate to a beneficiary, and the word ‘shalom’ 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.

The peace which Jesus offers us is the peace that no experience of life can ever take away from us.   It is a peace that no sorrow, no danger, or suffering can ever make it less, and that is independent of all our outward circumstances.  It is that Shalom that can only come from God.

To receive the peace, or shalom, that Christ promises us, then, does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work.  To share in Christ’s peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart.  That is the real meaning of the peace of Christ.  Whatever might be troubling your heart today, take it to Jesus knowing he wants to embrace you with his peace.

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