Fr Rodney Kissinger, S.J.
Our Lord is undoubtedly the greatest after-dinner speaker of all times. His discourse after the Last Supper has brought strength and consolation to countless Christians. It was given on our Lord’s last evening on earth. He had just finished celebrating the Eucharist with his apostles and empowering and commanding them, “Do this in memory of me.”
Like all farewell speeches it begins with the announcement of his departure and the reason for it. “Now I am going to the one who sent me…it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” (John 16: 5-7) But unlike other farewell celebrations the one who is leaving does not receive a gift but rather gives a gift. “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.” (John 14: 27)
Jesus is the Prince of Peace. At his birth the angels sang, “Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth to men of good will.” His constant admonition was, “Fear not…Do not worry…Be not afraid it is I…Go in peace your sins are forgiven…Blessed are the peacemakers.” When he sent his disciples out to preach he told them: “When you enter a house say, ‘Peace be to this house.’” In his last discourse he told his disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” After he had risen from the dead his constant greeting was, “Peace be with you.”
Peace, peace and there is no peace. Where is this peace? It is not to be found in the world. It is not to be found in the absence of violence, terrorism and war. If you are waiting for peace in the world, don’t hold your breath. Given human nature and man’s proven capacity for evil it is not a bright prospect.
Peace is not to be found in other people. Yet, how often our peace depends on the mind and the lips of other people; on what they think or say about us. How foolish is human respect whether it be the fear of criticism, ridicule or failure or the inordinate desire of human praise, honor and esteem.
Peace is not to be found in myself. “I see a law in my body warring against the law in my mind…the good I will I do not, the evil I will not I do.” (Romans 7: 13-24) When I look at myself I get discouraged. I realize that I do not have it all together. My experience tells me that I am a bundle of contradictions.
The peace of Christ is not to be found in the world, in others or in myself. It is not the result of human effort. It is a gift of Jesus. While our peace is a gift of Jesus, peace in the world is our responsibility.
In 1918, after more than ten million men and women had been killed in World War I, President Woodrow Wilson advocated the need for an international organization to preserve peace and settle disputes by arbitration rather than war. The Constitution of the League of Nations was drawn up. But the U.S. Congress voted not to join the League of Nations.
In 1945, after more millions of men and women had been killed in World War II, representatives of 45 war-weary nations gathered in San Francisco for the noble purpose of bringing peace to the world by organizing the United Nations. Sir Anthony Eden, of Great Britain, in a shattering introduction to this first meeting of the United Nations said, “This may be the world’s last chance.”
Sixteen years later, in 1961, with nuclear war threatening, John F. Kennedy, president of the United States concluded his address to the General Assembly of the same United Nations with the plea: “Together we shall save our planet, or together we shall perish in its flames.”
Peace in the world is our responsibility. We must use the peace of Christ to create peace in the world. We do this first of all by sharing this peace of Christ with others. The more people there are who share the peace of Christ the greater potential there is for peace in the world. Secondly, if we want peace in the world we have to work for justice. As long as there are grave injustices in the world there will never be peace.
make me an instrument of your peace.”
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