Acts 15:1-2, 22-29; Rev. 21:10-14, 22-23; Jn. 14:23-29
There once lived a king who offered a prize to the artist who would paint the best picture depicting peace. Many artists tried. Two pictures caught his attention of the king.
One picture was of a calm lake. The lake was a perfect mirror, for peaceful towering mountains were all around it. Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. All who saw this picture
appreciated it as a perfect picture of peace. The other picture was different. It had mountains, but these were rugged and bare. Above was an angry sky, from which rain fell and in which lightning played. Down the side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall.
When the king announced the winner, everyone was shocked. He chose the second picture. This did not look peaceful at all. It looked like the artist has mistakenly submitted his painting depicting storm rather than peace. But if anyone looked closely at the painting, he could see a tiny bush growing in the cracks in the rock. In the bush a mother bird had built her next. In the midst of the rush of angry weather, the bird sat on her nest – in perfect peace.
Peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart.
In today’s Gospel Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid”.
Today a lot is spoken about peace. Peace for the individual, peace in family, peace in the society, peace in the nation and peace in the world. But, everywhere we encounter unrest and trouble. Individuals are raising hands against others. Groups are involving in mass killing of other groups. Societies are set on annihilating other societies. Nations are waging war against other nations. All these things are done with the justification to establish peace. What is the outcome – more and more violence. It is good to remember the words of Emerson “Peace cannot be achieved through violence; it can only be attained through understanding.”
One of the most basic reasons for this unrest is human ego. Everyone feels that he is right and all others are wrong. When he frantically attempts to prove him right he creates unrest.
A wandering monk passed by the courtyard of a monastery where he heard two groups of monks arguing about the temple flag fluttering in the breeze.
"It is the flag that moves," one group argued.
"No, it is the wind that moves," argued the other group.
Back and forth they argued, responding to the logic of the other side, coming up with new rationale for their respective positions. But it just came down to, "It is the wind that moves, it is the flag that moves."
After listening for a while, the itinerant monk interrupted them and said, "If you look more closely you will see that it is neither the flag nor the wind that moves -- what moves is your mind."
This story is a reminder of how easily we fall into taking sides and then feeling the need to prove ourselves "right."
The first reading speaks about the action of certain individuals who disturbed the peace in the early Christian community by their false teachings. Then the apostles and the elders, with the consent of the whole church, decided to choose men from among their members and to send them to Antioch with their instructions to re-establish peace.
Peace is the beauty of life. It is sunshine. It is the smile of a child, the love of a mother, the joy of a father, the togetherness of a family. Said Menachem Begin. It is up to us to find peace or live a disturbed life. Francis of Assisi was a great champion of peace. He prayed, “Lord make me an instrument of your peace.” The whole of Assisi and neighbouring towns flocked around this saint of peace. Francis’ pursuit of peace invites everyone to his most common greeting: May the Lord give you peace. This greeting articulates the meaning of his life, that is, the evangelical life of peace and reconciliation. Francis instructed his brothers in this Gospel life: “As you announce peace with your mouth, make sure that you have greater peace in your hearts, thus no one will be provoked to anger or scandal because of you. Let everyone be drawn to peace and kindness through your peace and gentleness.”
There is a story about an Indian King who was obsessed with the desire to find the meaning of peace. All the intellectuals in the kingdom were invited to answer the king’s questions. Many tried but one could explain how to find peace and what to do with it. At last someone said the king ought to consult the sage who lived just outside the borders of his kingdom. The king went to the sage and posed the question. Without a word the sage went into the kitchen and brought a grain of wheat to the king. He placed the grain of wheat in the king’s palm and said, “In this you will find the answer to your question.”
The king locked the precious grain in a tiny box and placed the box in his safe. Each morning the king would open the box and look at the grain to find the answer. Weeks later another sage, passing through, stopped to meet the king who eagerly invited him to resolve his dilemma. The king explained how he had asked the question to a sage who gave him a grain of wheat. The sage explained. This grain has to either provide nourishment to the body for row and multiply interacting with the elements. If you keep this grain locked up in a gold box it will eventually perish without providing nourishment or multiplying. However, if it is allowed to interact with the elements it will flourish and soon you would have a whole field of wheat which will nourish not only you but also so many others.
So, peace must multiply by interacting with others. In Today’s Gospel we hear the words of Jesus “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”
This is the promise of Jesus. When we live in union with him there will be peace in our life. The peace that we enjoy internally will pass on to the family and from the family to the society and to the whole world.
The peace of the Lord be with you. Amen.