Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Easter – Jn 14:27-31a
Today’s Gospel continues the readings we’ve been hearing from the Last Supper discourse, and it begins with Christ’s words and command to His Apostles, a command that all of us would do well to heed: Christ tells them “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.” We can consider, first, what this peace is that Christ gives, and, second, what that command means for our own lives.
First, the Greek word Christ uses for peace, εἰρήνη, eiréné, comes from the verb eiró, to join together, and so the word literally means wholeness, i.e., when all the essential parts of something are joined together. That’s why Saint Augustine said that peace is “a tranquility in order”; it’s a sort of calm that comes when things are in the right place, when things are made right, and everything is where it should be. This order, this “setting things in their place,” means to be focused on Christ. When our lives are in order, then we experience peace.
What is it that disrupts that peace? When we allow ourselves to be troubled and to become afraid. The Greek word troubled is loaded with meaning: properly speaking, the word for troubled is a verb which means to put in motion, to agitate back-and-forth, to shake to-and-fro, or even to boil water. Figuratively, it means to set in motion what needs to remain still, and when we apply it to a person, it means to cause an inner confusion from getting too stirred up inside. The English words upset or boiling with rage convey this meaning very well. In Biblical language, the word heart doesn’t refer simply to the physical organ: it means the root and center of the entire person.
Note that Jesus tells His Apostles, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” Do not let, meaning, we have a choice. We don’t have to let things bother us. Since the time Adam and Eve disobeyed God, there’s never been any shortage of problems in the world; there will always be difficulties, challenges, scandals, you name it. To let ourselves be easily shaken means that we’ve built our house, not on rock, but on sand; remember that even though there’s a storm, Peter starts to sink only when he takes his eyes off of Jesus. We don’t have to give our hearts and our emotions to every little thing that comes asking for them simply because it comes asking for them!
We can ask ourselves: are we experiencing the peace that Christ came to bring? If not, why? What is out of order in my life? Do I allow myself to be troubled or afraid? Through the intercession of Mary, Queen of Peace, let us ask for the grace to center our lives on Christ, and thus experience the peace that He comes to bring.