Sunday, 1 May 2016

Peace, the Holy Spirit, and Love, 6th Sunday of Easter, Year C

Jn 14:23-29
There are many things that we all want in life, some of which we are more aware of at certain times than at others. Among the things we want is peace, the peace that comes when our striving ceases, when discord is ended, when all is at right.
In the Gospel today we heard the Lord Jesus promise His disciples two things: Peace, and, the Holy Spirit. I want to say a few words today about why these two things go together, because this will help us understand how to attain TRUE peace, -the peace that the Lord said “the world cannot give”(Jn 14:27), but He can.

If we want to acquire peace it helps to know what peace is. And I was reading about this in the seminary library this week: St Thomas Aquinas defines peace saying, “Peace is nothing else than the tranquillity coming from order”(ST II-II q29 a2).
The problem, is that there is a threefold DIS-order in my life:
I have a lack of order within myself, so that my intellect and will battle with by desires -my intellect tells me to get out of bed when the alarm clock rings, and by body says otherwise.
I also have a lack of order in my relationships with other people.
And, thirdly, I lack order in my relation with God, specifically in sin.

The Lord offers me the gift of peace, peace in each of these three areas. But, if you noticed, the offer of peace He made came AFTER the offer of the Holy Spirit: It is the Holy Spirit, who the Lord Jesus sends, it is the Holy Spirit who gives us peace.
But HOW does the Holy Spirit bring us peace?
Scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit, if we let Him live in us, bears fruit, 12 fruits in fact (c.f. Gal 5:22). The first of these fruits is love, that comes with the indwelling of God who is love. The second is joy, that comes as the naturally rejoicing in the possession of God who is love. And the third is peace, a peace that perfects and stabilises our joy, and a peace that flows out of the possession of love.

I noted a minute ago that there are three types of disorder in my life, each opposing peace.
It is the presence of LOVE that orders EACH of these disorders.
In myself, love, meaning the presence of the DIVINE love within us, puts order into my desires, so that I yearn for the RIGHT things. And, yearning for the right things I have an inner harmony.
Similarly, with my neighbour, love gives me harmony in my relations with my neighbour.
And, most pivotally, when the Divine love is within me, and I love God our Creator above all things, as He has repeatedly commanded us to do (e.g. Mt 22:37-38), this love heals the disorder in my relations with Him too.

The presence of love is therefore what brings us peace, peace at every level of our being.
It is the presence of the Holy Spirit that brings us the Divine love.
And, it is the Lord Jesus who promises both of these gifts to His disciples.

Everyone here who has been Baptised and Confirmed has already received the fullness of that Holy Spirit. But that doesn’t mean we’ve allowed it to bear full fruit within us.
And peace is one of the fruits we haven’t let fully develop within us.
Before I conclude today can I ask you to think about some of the areas in your own life where you lack peace:
Maybe in relationships with family, or other people;
Maybe in the restlessness that comes when we are striving for something that keeps eluding us;
Maybe, more obviously, in sin.
And think, in that situation, of how the presence of greater degree of LOVE would bring you peace, the “peace which the world cannot give”.
And invite the Holy Spirit, who IS love and BRINGS love, to dwell more fully in that part of your life.

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