30 April 2016

PEACE IN THE MIDST OF STORMS

VI SUNDAY OF EASTER 
acts 15:1-2, 22-29; revelation 21:10-14, 22-23; john 14:23-29

a wealthy man commissioned an artist to paint a picture of peace. 
the artist painted a beautiful country scene: cattle in green pasture, birds in a blue sky, and a quaint village in the distance. the patron was disappointed, and told the artist: «this isn’t a picture of true peace. try again.»
the artist returned to his studio, thought for several hours, and then painted a beautiful woman holding a sleeping baby, and smiling lovingly at her child. «surely this is true peace,» the artist thought, and hurried to give the picture to the wealthy man. the wealthy man refused the painting.
the artist returned home… tired, discouraged, angry. he thought. he prayed for inspiration. then, he had a «eureka» moment. he rushed to the canvas and began to paint. when he finished, he hurried to the wealthy man, and gave him the painting. the patron studied it for several minutes and exclaimed: «this is a picture of true peace!»

what was this picture? it showed a stormy sea pounding against a cliff, the dark sky filled with the power of the thunderstorm. the artist had captured the fury of the storm. and in the middle of the picture, under a cliff, was a small bird, safe and dry in her nest snuggled safely in the rocks. the bird was at peace midst the storm that raged about her.


this is the kind of peace that JESUS gives… not the peace of a spot in nature – beautiful and serene; not the peace of a mother and child – tender and gentle; not the peace of a calm sea – where there are no storms or violent waves… but rather the peace of knowing that in the midst of turmoil there is a rock which can shelter us, a power that can spread its wings over us and keep us safe.
how is this peace accomplished? through a presence, here and now, that comforts us: the presence of the SPIRIT… the presence of GOD.

the first reading from the acts of the apostles is a good example of the way in which the SPIRIT brings peace. it details one of the first controversies in the church: «must a gentile become jewish first in order to become a christian?» the council of jerusalem decided that gentiles would not have to become jews in order to be full members of the church. 
peace is not the absence of conflict. it is the resolution of conflict through the presence of the SPIRIT.

is there conflict in my life? is there turmoil; are there storms? let me surrender myself to the SPIRIT and allow his peace to fill my heart… a peace that comes from being «at one» with GOD, with my neighbours, with myself, with nature.