Gospel: John 14: 23-29
This is another extract from the “Last Discourse” - in effect the Last Will and Testament of Jesus - that John sets around the Last Supper. The greatest bequest Jesus makes to them - and us - is His peace.
The peace He is talking about is not just an absence of conflict or even a bit of peace and quiet. He is talking about something much greater. We don’t have one word for it in English - but some people use the Hebrew word “Shalom” to express it. It is that peace we experience when all seems well with the world - inside and outside us. We sense harmony and wholeness - and we certainly don’t want it to end!
Jesus points out that the world cannot give such shalom. He is not condemning the world but pointing out the limitations of only looking for this “peace” in things outside ourselves. We sometimes meet people who are trying so hard for shalom that they can’t get it.
Many people find that prayer - especially meditation - opens the way to shalom for them. In religious circles, this is often the only way suggested - which leaves those for whom it doesn’t work feeling as if they are not quite as good as those for whom it does.
Our consolation lies in the fact that if God had wanted that to be the only way, He would have made us all the same and we might have ended up with a silent, contemplative world peopled by monks and nuns!
Shalom comes from knowing ourselves and where we find that sense of wholeness and harmony. For some, it can come with being with family and friends - for others, it can be a concert - or a great holiday. It can come on solitary walks - or in a shared celebration. There are as many ways of finding it as there are people.
The trick is to tune into the feeling of shalom it brings and then savouring it. Store the sense of well-being away as a “soul-memory” and when trials come, you will have a solid core of the peace that the world cannot give - and will be able not to “let your hearts be troubled or afraid”.
You will have learnt what Julian of Norwich meant when she said that sin and the pain it causes are part of life - but “all shall be well - and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”
What does it mean for me?
© 2011, Wellspring