Jesus is the peace between natives and foreigners, whites and blacks, men and women. One, then, need not be upset by the other.
Jesus says good-bye at length to his disciples. For he wants them to keep their faith in him; he does not want trials to upset them.
No, he does not want to see his own in distress or to fall away. That is why he readies them even for the hour when they will lose their lives. For those who hate them will think that to kill them means to give worship to God (Jn 16, 2).
That is how excessive and single-minded not a few can be that they force on others their beliefs. At least those who think that Christians should be circumcised do not go to such extreme. Still, they upset and trouble Christians who were pagans once; they bring in polarization.
And these fanatics do not only upset the Christians in Antioch; they also trigger strife. And it comes as no surprise that their quarrel with Paul and Barnabas turns heated. After all, Paul is just as strong-minded as they; he calls them false brothers who come in by stealth as spies (Gal 2, 4). Yes, he at one time was breathing out threats and murder against Christians (Acts 9, 1).
In the end, though, the conflict gets solved; cooler heads carry the day. But what makes reason win and brings peace and mutual knowledge is love.
To love means to get to know, to not be upset nor to upset others.
Jesus tells his disciples that those who love him will keep his word, and his Father will love them. And he and his Father will come to them and make their home with them. The corollary of this first teaching, of course, is the second, which is that those who do not love Jesus do not keep his word. And he further makes clear that his word is more the word of the Father who has sent him than his.
But both sayings answer why Jesus will show himself to the disciples but not to the world (Jn 14, 22). Hence, the answer seems to say that to love Jesus is to know him as he makes himself known. To grasp and to keep his words.
Those who love Jesus also gets to know his Father and feel his love strongly. To delight too in Jesus and his Father making their home with them.
This inner life with Jesus and with his Father in the Holy Spirit is crucial. For if we do not enjoy it, we will not know either the peace that Jesus gives. Dismay will be ours, rather, and we will shake with fear. We will not know what Jesus has taught nor will we keep it in mind. And joy will be beyond our reach.
It is crucial besides that we have this inner life if we humans are to know one another better and deeply. If we are to respect one another, no matter our nationality, race, language or religion. If we are to stay one, sharing in the body and blood of Christ. For love is above all rules (SV.EN X:478). Above all the laws of Moses even. Above all outer human traits too.
Lamb of God, give us your peace and the love that knows no fear nor bounds (1 Jn 4, 18; 1 Cor 13, 7). And grant that no trial will dismay us and that we do not upset our neighbor. Make us live by your death, die by your life; let us hide in you and be full of you (SV.EN I:276).
22 May 2022
Sixth Sunday of Easter (C)
Acts 15, 1-2. 22-29; Rev 21, 10-14. 22-23; Jn 14, 23-29