Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Easter
Acts 14:19-28 + John 14:27-31
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.”
One of the blessings of the priesthood is ministering to someone laying on his deathbed. It’s certainly true that there’s often grief—sometimes dramatic grief—on the faces of loved ones surrounding the dearly departing. Yet it’s rare to see someone who is dying cry.
Why would this be? It’s not likely that the dying person loves those surrounding him less than they love him. But his focus is different than the focus of those around him. Their focus in upon him: or, more specifically, losing him. His focus, on the other hand, is the mystery of death, and the many questions posed by that mystery: “Where am I going?” “What and whom will I see there?” “What has my life up to now amounted to?”
In the face of all those questions that fill the mind and heart of a dying person, that person usually experiences one of two things: either anguish, or peace. No doubt, you can find many different people to give you many different definitions of peace. But the peace of the Christian who is dying in Christ is one of Our Lord’s greatest gifts. Of course, we don’t have to wait until our deathbed to experience this peace.
Jesus speaks about this peace today. Helpfully, Jesus clarifies what this peace is not: “not as the world gives do I give it to you.” The peace that the world seeks is fleeting and based on compromise. The peace of Jesus, on the contrary, does not need to engage in compromise because it consists in what is truly best for each and all. As such, it is abiding, as we are called to abide in Christ, and as He wishes to abide within each of us.
Do we believe that this sort of peace is truly possible in this world? Through the power of the Holy Spirit, it is possible to fix our lives on this gift, and to abide in it throughout our lives. However, to do so takes a lot of cultivation of our souls through works of sacrifice and the virtues. The goal of all this is formation in the natural and supernatural virtues, that within each of us, God’s grace can take root and flower abundantly.