Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.
- John 14:27
Peace and serenity would be a great gift at this time of year. With all the papers to write, read and grade ... with all the exams to prepare for, create, correct and take ... with all of the final projects that need to be started, completed and evaluated. Most of us are not about finding peace as much as we are about survival at this time of year. Peace seems to be such a distant dream for us.
In the readings for today, Jesus offers us and His disciples the gift of peace in a time of stress. In the Gospel, this offer is given during the last supper when Jesus knew He would be betrayed and his death was imminent. St. Paul, in the Act of the Apostles, was stoned by an angry crowd, dragged out of town and left for dead; he was definitely having a bad day. But God's peace is not a gift given when it is not needed.
The gift of peace from God is offered to all in the times in our lives which seem to be most filled with stress. This gift allows us truly not to be "troubled or afraid" in places and situations that may be filled with problems, confusion and contradiction. It is a blessing to know in our hearts, in the deepest parts of our being, that we are cared for and protected by God. We can know that no matter what confronts us, God will make it work out for our good and the good of people around us. This gift of peace does not remove responsibility for doing our part in this world or make us apathetic, but it allows us to see that our efforts are part of God's work, and He will bring good results to all we do.
St. Ignatius Loyola tells us that for us to receive the peace offered by God we must learn to trust God. He tells us that God's care for us is — and has always been — available to us. For us to receive that care, that peace, and make it operative in our lives, we must first recognize that availability. We must give up the idea we can do it all, and learn to rely on the power of God in our lives. Ignatius teaches us that we must surrender our misplaced self-reliance and allow ourselves to recognize the blessings and help the Lord offers each of us, each day, every day. God's gift of peace comes from our relationship with God, and we may need to take a little time to bring that relationship to our awareness.
For many of us, the approaching end of the school year is a time when we are in real need of real peace. We tend to think that if we just keep doing more and more, we will find it, or earn it, but this may be only a way to survive the present stress. It doesn't last.
Let's do more than just get through this time. Let's accept the gift of peace God offers each of us. Let's each try to take some of the time we use to worry about how we are going to get everything done and simply turn to God for that help, for getting everything done, for caring for us.
He is offering. Let us give over our stress and concerns to God, at least a little bit, and we will find that He will give us the gift we all need ... His peace.
A. M. D. G.
D. Highberger, S.J.
P. Stark, S.J.