Sixth Sunday of Easter
May 25-26, 2019
From Fr. Anthony Ligato
Seeking a Peace that will last
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Throughout all of human history peace has been elusive, often peace has been destroyed and wars have been started due to the ambition of people who want ultimate power. An industrial complex has supported the ambitions of those leaders who seek power through means of war. One of those industrialists was Alfred Nobel, yes, the man for whom the Nobel Peace Prize is named after. Alfred Nobel was a Swedish industrialist and Chemist. He invented Dynamite in the mid Nineteenth Century. Like so many weapons of war Dynamite also had a peaceful use in construction. But it was not always put to that use. Alfred Nobel a year before he died changed his will and endowed five prizes through the wealth he amassed from the manufacturing of Dynamite. One of those prizes was the Nobel Peace Prize. But as we have learned in the 125 years since the Peace Prize was created, simply awarding a prize can not bring about lasting peace.
It was Pope Paul VI who helps us to understand what we truly need to do to attain lasting peace. On the occasion of celebrating World Day of Prayer for Peace on New Years Day 1972, Pope Paul the VI spoke those famous words that tells us how to achieve lasting peace he said, “If you want peace work for justice.” We hear in today’ Gospel that Jesus tells his disciples, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him.” (John 14:23) What is the word that Jesus is referring? Jesus says. “Whoever does not love me does not keep my words.” (John 14:24) The words Jesus gives are words of peace. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” (John 14:27)
How can true and lasting peace be achieved? Jesus provides that for us as well, “I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything.” (John 14: 2526) The Holy Spirit imparts all knowledge and wisdom which are gifts of the Spirit. Those gifts bring forth the fruits of the Spirit, peace is one of those fruits of the Spirit. The reason we can achieve lasting peace is because Jesus sends the Holy Spirit which provides to us the presence of Jesus even after Jesus returned to the Father when he ascended.
Paul and Barnabas are a perfect example of what it truly means to achieve peace by working for justice. There was a controversy among the Jewish Christians and the Gentile Christians which has disrupted the Church. There were some of the Jewish Christians who felt that the Gentile first had to become Jews before they could become Christians. This created an undue burden on the Gentiles who wanted to become Christians. Paul felt this was unjust and he went to Jerusalem to voice his opposition. The Church in Jerusalem agreed with Paul. The meeting that took place in 49 A.D. became known as the Council of Jerusalem, which was the first Ecumenical Council of the Church. They made their decision as the body of Christ lead by the Holy Spirit.
No amount of awards, prizes or citations can ever bring about lasting peace. The Holy Spirit, the Advocate has been given to us and the Spirit enables us to achieve lasting peace. The words of Pope Paul VI are as inspiring today as they were almost 50 years ago, “if you want peace, work for justice.” This is how Jesus asks us to love, by keeping his word. And the word is Peace!
Yours in Christ,