Jesus says, “Peace, I leave you; my peace I give you.” (John 14, 27). The context of the 14th chapter of John’s gospel is the last supper, and Jesus giving his final discourse to them. Jesus speaks of the completion of his mission, or him leaving the disciples, but promises a helper to them. The disciples are finding it difficult to understand and accept. In this context, one of the promises of Jesus is Peace. He was called the Prince of Peace. Now its good to ask what is this peace.
Definitions from Merriam Webster are…
1. a state of tranquillity or quiet: such as
2. freedom from civil disturbance
3. a state of security or order within a community provided for by law or custom
4. freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions
5. harmony in personal relations
6. a state or period of mutual concord between governments
7. a pact or agreement to end hostilities between those who have been at war or in a state of enmity
I think peace which Jesus speaks is much more than these dictionary definitions. Some of the online quotations from famous thinkers captures them better.
Raimundo Panikkar has written quite a lot on peace. The dichotomy created in the western world by the division of material and spiritual power has resulted in differentiating the inner and exterior peace. Panikkar criticizes this division; he criticizes the use of violence to maintain peace; Catholic Church has used crusades to build Kingdom of God. In today’s world the dialogues have been an attempt for that exterior peace. We all want to create peace, but not ready to receive peace. (Peace is a gift for him, and i find it very close to Jesus’ saying). Forgiveness is an
essential ingredient of peace. When history can’t be ignored in the dialogue, historicity along with forgiveness can only bring peace. A Christian dialoguing with a Jew without ready to dislodge the allegation that Jews killed Jesus can’t bring a true peace.
During the eucharist, all of us are invited to share the peace with one another. The prayer before the sharing of peace, is the first prayer in eucharist addressed to Jesus. This is very much connected to the gospel line of Jesus offering the peace to us. How much more wonderful it will be, if we can receive the gift of peace from Jesus (one of the repeated assurances of the risen Lords in his apparitions after Easter) and share the same peace as a beautiful gift to other? Eucharist becomes much more a lived reality in life.
Yes, the peace of Jesus is not an assurance that we wont have difficulties in life, but its a greater promise at a deeper plane, which can help us migrate the struggles and still be contented. Some people who are suffering or who don’t have sufficient resources in life have much greater smile and joy than some of the richest and powerful persons. Those smiles and joys are surely the great witnesses of the richness and power of peace.