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Easter 6 Sunday C - Peace I leave


Michel de Verteuil
General Textual comments
In this second extract from the last discourse of Jesus we see various aspects of the spiritual life being brought out. The aspects are interconnected, but you can look at them separately if you like.

Holy Spirit teacherTo understand the full force of verses 23 and 24 you must go to the previous verse, which is not included in this Sunday’s reading, where one of the apostles asks Jesus why he will not show himself to the whole world. Jesus’ response is to explain that following him involves an inner relationship which cannot be bypassed.
The second half of verse 24, and verses 25 and 26, show us Jesus facing the fact that much of his teaching was unfinished, and still more was misunderstood.
In verse 27 Jesus speaks of how he shares his inner peace with his followers.
In verse 28 he expresses how he is experiencing his imminent death.
In verse 29 he returns to the theme of the existing relationship between the disciples and himself, and contrasts this with how they will experience him after his death and resurrection.
Prayer Reflections
Lord, many people in our country feel alienated,
they would like to be different from who they are,
forgive themto have lived at a different time, or belonged to a different culture.
We pray that they may come to love someone like Jesus
who will assure them that their stories, far from being drab or uninteresting, are sacred stories,
and that they need not feel ashamed of who they are
because you, the great Lord and God, you feel at home with them.
Lord, the apostles often felt frustrated with Jesus;
they could not understand why he spent so much time with them alone.
They wanted him to hurry and let the whole world know what he was teaching them.
At one time, we too thought that the message of Jesus could be packaged
into a few brief commandments and marketed by radio and television.
Now we know from our experience that becoming his followers
is a personal journey that each one of us must make for ourselves.
We get a feel for the man Jesus and gradually
we learn to love his words so that they sink into our consciousness,
until one day we know that you have come into our lives
and whatever happens you will never leave us again.
Lord, we could know all the teachings of Jesus by heart,
leadersbut if we don’t have a personal relationship with him we will not keep them.

Lord, when Church leaders or State leaders become cruel or violent
it is because they have come to think that they are indispensable
and have forgotten that they are only your instruments.
Teach them to be like Jesus,
aware that their word is not theirs but the word of the one who sent them;
that they are here on earth for a short while saying what they have to say,
and they will soon move on.
But that will not be the end of your work,
because you will send the Holy Spirit, the Advocate,
and all the things they have taught he will teach again,
and he will remind people of whatever they have forgotten or not understood.
“If you desire peace, prepare for war.”  Roman proverb
Lord, the great powers can never bring peace to the world
because they want to impose it by force,
whereas, as Jesus taught, we cannot impose peace,
we can only share the peace that we have ourselves
as a gift that others are free to take or leave.
Lord, people have taught us facts and skills,
but there have been a few special people who have been like Jesus for us
in that they shared with us how they coped with life,
and their courage, their perseverance is like a precious inheritance
which we can build on in our own lives.
Lord, we thank you for the faith that enables us to let our loved ones go,
so that we can take leave of them
saying to ourselves, in the midst of our sorrow,
that since we love them we are glad to know that they are going to you,
letting go butterflytheir Father in heaven.
Lord, we become attached to the things which bring us close to you:
– our devotions and pilgrimages;
– the way liturgy is celebrated in our parish;
– our method of prayer.
When we have to give them up we become anxious and even angry.
But we have learned from experience
that we must not let our hearts be troubled or afraid
because you are greater than any manifestation of your presence,
and just as Jesus went away from his disciples and returned
so you will always show yourself to us in a new way.
Lord, we thank you for our parents.
Like Jesus with his disciples they told us things before they happened
and now that they have happened we can  believe.
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Thomas O’Loughlin,
 
Introduction to the Celebration
At Easter we recalled that we have died and risen in Christ in baptism. Today let us recall that, as his people sharing his life, we must be people of the Light.

Gospel Notes
The Spirit of Peace
The Spirit of Peace
This is part of the conclusion to one Last Supper discourse in John where Jesus speaks about his departure, and in that context how he will remain present to his community. He has two gifts to the church: the Holy Spirit and peace. The Spirit is the one who continues the teaching of Jesus by keeping it in the memory of his disciples, and does not introduce a new or additional teaching. Peace is the gift that enables them to remain in love with each other and with the Father.

Homily Notes
1. Finding suitable ways to give a broad overview catechesis of what we believe in by saying Jesus rose from the dead and has shared his new life with us is something that has con­cerned preachers from the very beginning as we can witness, for example, in 1 Peter. What is needed is a rounded state­ment, that is accessible, memorable, and pictorial. The most frequently chosen image has been that of baptism – but while this is the foundational Christian symbol, its power for many today is limited as it is too often seen just as a family occasion or as rite for infancy. So even when we preach about it, we have to face the dissonance that an actual baptism may for those concerned involve more worry over the name to give the child than the ritual or its reality.
2. However, we must still use our great symbols and continue to expound them. One way of doing this is to take the prayer for the blessing of the water at baptism at the Easter Vigil (Missal, pp. 213-214) and go through it by way of a meditation with comments. This serves to recall that we are in Eastertide and calls up all the great images of Christian memory.
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3. Sean Goan
Gospel
God within usWe continue to read the words of Jesus to the disciples at the last supper and these are appropriate now as we draw near to the Feast of Pentecost and the giving of the Spirit. At the beginning of the text we find a favourite theme of John which is that of the God dwelling in the disciple, making his home within each one.

This means that the Jerusalem temple, beautiful as it was, has no longer any importance, because God has chosen to live in the heart of the believer. John uses the word Advocate or Paraclete to describe the Holy Spirit and, in so doing, he is reminding us that the work of the Spirit is twofold. On the one hand, the Spirit is with us to act as our lawyer or defence counsel against an unbelieving world while, on the other, he is our teacher, who brings to light all that Jesus has said, leading us to an understanding of Jesus’ words and the truth that God does indeed dwell within.

Reflection
churchThat first council of the church in Jerusalem had enormous implications for the history of the world, far beyond what the participants could have imagined. They were not surrounded by the pomp and splendour of the Second Vatican Council, nor did they have the attention of the world’s media analysing every move. Rather that small group had to proceed believing that, despite their differences and the difficulties involved in reconciling them, the Holy Spirit would guide them on the right path. So it is with the church at the beginning of the third millennium. Doubtless there are difficult days ahead and hard decisions to be made, but as people of faith we step forward trusting that God will bring about the changes in us which will make us more perfectly the People of God.
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4. Donal Neary S.J.
Gospel reflections

Feeling peace
– at the centre of the Beatitudes –
On one of my first visits to a Jesuit house, I felt a huge peace -maybe the beginning of a vocation. In bereavement, there can be a moment of peace, which seems to come from nowhere: peace of being totally loved by a good friend or spouse; peace, just peace, with the children.
peace from faithThere is a peace that comes from faith and love, and that is prayer: peace that comes from knowing I am heard, understood and loved.

There is a huge need for listening now, for knowing that people care in our world of suicide and addictions to alcohol. We can feel we live in the impersonal world of anxiety and isolation. We need the peace of honest conversation and openness, and the peace of being forgiven.
Peace is not evading difficulty. You are mad worried about a child – somewhere in the middle, like gold in the mud, you find the peace of knowing God’s love for you and for him or her. That needs time and a bit of prayer.
It is good to sit each day in silence. Allow this peace to get into you. Breathe in and out, just saying the word peace. That is God’s gift to you. There is also a peace from God in doing good and doing the right thing. Jesus knew it was the best gift he could give. It comes from love.
Back to my first visit that day – what caused the peace? I don’t know fully. We can be surprised when we will be graced with the peace of Jesus Christ, which the world cannot give.
                 Give each of us O Lord,
that peace beyond understanding.

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From The Connections:

THE WORD:
“ . . . the Father will give another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it sees nor knows him.”
John 14: 23-29
In his Last Supper discourse, Jesus leaves his fledgling Church his gift of peace and the promise of the Spirit.  Christ’s gift of peace is not the absence of trouble and hostility (“as the world gives peace”); Christ’s peace is the Scriptural concept of shalom – meaning the pursuit of everything which makes for the highest good.  The peace of Christ finds its core in the Gospel principles of humble servanthood and holy justice.

The “Advocate” (or “Paraclete,” as found in some translations of John’s Gospel), who intercedes and intervenes on behalf of good, is the exact opposite of the "adversary," Satan.  The Advocate/Paraclete is that presence of God within us that opens our hearts and minds to the promptings of God's Word as proclaimed by Jesus.

HOMILY POINTS:
The peace the Risen Jesus leaves us is not passive acquiescence or the absence of hostility and conflict; the peace of Jesus is a mindset: a constant seeking out of God’s love, justice and mercy, an understanding of our “connectedness” to God and to one another as children of the same God.
In sacrament, in Scripture, in community, in our living of the Gospel in our every day lives, the Risen Christ is in our midst.  In even our smallest act of selfless kindness – prompted by the Paraclete instructing our open hearts and spirit – we reveal the presence of the Easter Christ in our little piece of the world.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus promises that he and his Father will “make our dwelling” with us when we “keep [Jesus’] word” of love, forgiveness, reconciliation and peace.

The peace of terry cloth
The bathrobe.
There is no more comfortable and comforting garment in our closets.  When it comes to bathrobes, the bigger, the thicker, the warmer — the better.
The bathrobe keeps us gentle.  It is possible to sulk in a bathrobe, but not to rage.  Trying to be serious or authoritative in a bathrobe would be a joke, commanding neither respect nor fear — when we feel the need to right a wrong or take decisive action against some ne’er-do-well, the first thing we do is get dressed before we have at it.  Bad-tempered, suspicious people never wear bathrobes in order to stay prepared for battle.
You are most yourself in your bathrobe.  You are at your most vulnerable, you are at the mercy of others in a bathrobe.  Putting on your bathrobe means taking off your pomposity and your self-importance.  You are at your most giving and forgiving in your bathrobe.
Bathrobes are made for cuddling, not arguing.  Bathrobes embrace us in a spirit of blissful peace and unconditional love.  Presidents and prime ministers, generals and leaders, should wear bathrobes at all times.
[Adapted from an essay by Barbara Holland.]
The peace and comfort we feel in our bathrobes are the peace and comfort that Jesus speaks of in today’s Gospel — peace that is centered in our selfless love for others, comfort that is found in realizing God’s presence in our very midst in the love of others.  The Risen Christ calls us to embrace the attitude of our bathrobes — to put aside our own self-obsessed agendas and need to control in order to put on the Gospel that places forgiveness and reconciliation, justice and community, before all else.   
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ILLUSTRATIONS

Fr. Jude Botelho:

This Sunday’s first reading from the Acts reminds us of the conflict that arose in the early Christian community. The Jews felt that to be a follower of Jesus, one had to be a Jew. Hence they insisted on circumcision. Recent converts did not see the need to undergo a ritual practice of the Jewish faith. For these converts Jesus alone mattered and accepting Him and his teaching was all that was required. This conflict divided the early Christian community. To solve the problem they decide to meet together and discern what God was saying through the many voices heard. The meeting held with the apostles, the elders and the representatives of the people forms the first Council of the Church in Jerusalem. The result of this discernment and deliberation is a new direction and orientation of the Church. What is important in living the calling of a true Christian is what the Holy Spirit desires and not what we wish or desire. In keeping our peace in changing times and changing situations in the Church, we need discernment and an openness to the Spirit to find out what pleases the Spirit rather than what pleases us.

Only the just man enjoys peace of mind
A retired couple was alarmed by the threat of nuclear war, so they undertook a serious study of all the inhabited places on the globe. Their goal was to determine where in the world would be the place to be least affected by a nuclear war, a place of ultimate security. They studied and traveled, traveled and studied. Finally they found the place. And at Christmas they sent their friend a card from their new home in the Falkland Islands. However, their ‘paradise’ was soon turned into a war zone by Great Britain and Argentina! Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” Peace is not in a place but in your heart.
John Rose in ‘John’s Sunday Homilies’

In the Gospel we have yet another source of conflict that disturbs the disciples of the Lord. They know that Jesus is going to leave them as he has accomplished his mission on earth and is about to return to his Father. His imminent departure makes them fearful. How will they manage without him? Will they succeed in the mission he has entrusted to them? Jesus has to reassure his disciples that it is good for Him to go so that He might send the spirit to be with them always. All this while He was physically present to them. He wants to be more intimately present to them and for this to happen He has to leave them. But he is leaving behind His Word and those who keep his word will experience His presence in their lives. “Those who love me will keep my word and my Father and I will make our home in them.” Jesus came to tell us this good news. The whole of the Gospel has just this message: The Father loves you and is watching over you. In order to experience the loving Spirit of the Father at work in our lives, it was necessary that Jesus should leave his disciples. It is necessary that we be tested by trials and face conflicts but we need not be afraid, the Father is standing guard always!

The Father stands guard
There was a lad, a member of an Indian tribe, who was taken out to a jungle on the eve of his thirteenth birthday. The idea was that he should spend the night there alone, as a test of his courage, and his suitability for acceptance into young manhood in the tribe. The night was very long. This was his first experience of being alone in such an unfriendly environment. Every sound seemed amplified and every movement in the surrounding forest sent a shiver down his spine. There was no way he could sleep, there was no way to escape as it was dark all around and he did not want to risk going further into the dense jungle. He often despaired whether he could make it through the night; he never knew that a night could be so long. After what seemed ages the dawn began to filter through the trees. Soon he was able to look around and distinguish the trees from the bushes and the briars from the grass. As he looked around he caught sight of some movement behind one of the trees and approached very carefully. He was amazed to see his father standing there with a hunting rifle in his hand. Apparently, he had been standing there the whole night, watching over his son, lest any of the wild creatures of the jungle attack him. The son’s reaction was immediate, as he thought to himself. “If I had known that my dad was watching over me like that, I would have slept soundly all night.”
Jack McArdle

Mother stopped coming
Four year old Marion shouted and jumped for joy each time her mother came home from work each noon on her lunch break. Her mother would pick her up at the neighbour’s; they’d hurry home, eat lunch and play together. But Marion would become hysterical each time her mother left again after lunch. One day her mother stopped coming home for lunch. Marion was saddened and wondered why her mother had stopped coming. She wondered why her mother had stopped eating and playing with her. She wondered if her mother still loved her as she once did. Years later she learned her mother still came home each noon. She sat at the kitchen window eating her lunch and watching Marion play in the neighbour’s yard. All the while she longed to be with Marion. She longed to hold her close, especially when she cried. But it was for Marion’s good that she didn’t. Eventually Marion adjusted to her mother’s absence and grew up in a healthy way. Looking back on it now, Marion sees why her mother stopped coming. It was for her own good, for her own growth and development.
Anonymous

The Light within
I have read somewhere about an old sculptor who had, among many other pieces of work in his workshop, the model of a beautiful cathedral. It was covered with the dust of years, and nobody admired it, although it was an exact model, inside and out, of a fine cathedral. One day the old attendant placed a light inside the model, and its gleam shone through the beautiful stained glass windows. Then all stopped to admire its beauty. The change wrought by the light within was marvelous. It is so with us all. We must have the light within.
Anthony Castle in ’More Quotes and Anecdotes’

The spirit of encouragement
When Nathaniel Hawthorne went home heart-broken to tell his wife that he was a failure and had been fired from his job in a custom house, she surprised him with an exclamation of joy. “Now,” she said triumphantly, “you can write your book!” “Yes”, replied Nathaniel, “and what shall we live on while I am writing it?”  To his amazement, she opened a drawer and pulled out a substantial amount of money. “Where on earth did you get that?” he exclaimed. “I have always known you were a man of genius,” she told him. “I knew that someday you would write a masterpiece. So every week, out of the housekeeping money you gave me, I saved a little. So here is enough to last us for a whole year!” From her confidence and encouragement came one of the greatest novels of United States literature, The Scarlet Letter. The Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, works on the divine as well as the human levels in our lives.
Harold Buetow in ‘God Still Speaks: Listen!’

Perfect Peace
In his book, ‘Go down to the Potter’s House’, Donagh O’Shea has a story about a king who had two artists in his court who were bitter rivals. One day the king said, “I want to decide once and for all which of you is the better artist. You must paint the same theme, so I can judge between you. And let the theme be peace.” The two artists agreed, and a week later they came back with their paintings. The first presented his painting. It showed a dreamy landscape with rolling hills and a lake with not a ripple on the surface. The whole scene spoke of contentment, peace and stillness. However, the king said to the artist: Your picture is very pretty, but it puts me to sleep.” Then the second man presented his work. It showed a thundering waterfall. It was so realistic that one could almost hear the roar of the water as it crashed onto the rocks, hundreds of feet below. “But this is not a scene of peace I ordered,” said the king angrily. The artist made no reply but motioned to continue looking. The king spotted a detail that hitherto escaped him: among the rocks at the base of the waterfall a small shrub was growing with a bird’s nest in its branches. On looking closely at it the king noticed that there was a bird in the nest. It was a sparrow sitting on her eggs, her eyes closed. She was waiting for her chicks to be born, a perfect picture of peace. On seeing this, the king was delighted. Turning to the man who had painted it he said, “I like your picture very much. You have conveyed a very important thing about peace. It is possible to be at peace even in the middle of the hurly-burly of life.”
John Pichappilly in ‘The Table of the Word’

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While we yearn for the presence and company of loved ones and friends, we are sorrowful and do not like partings and goodbyes! We don't easily cope with loss especially when we get used to having people near us. Yet we mature and grow only when we can handle separations and losses in our lives. God is present even when He appears to be absent! Discern His peace-giving presence this weekend! Fr. Jude

Readings: Acts 15: 1-2, 22-29Rev. 21: 10-14, 22-23; John 14: 23-29

The first reading from the Acts reminds us of the conflict that arose in the early Christian community precisely because it had so many people joining it. To a Jew, circumcision was most sacred. Other recent converts did not see the need to undergo it. For these converts Jesus alone mattered and accepting Him. This conflict divided the early Christian community and disturbed the peace needed for its growth. How does the Christian community manage this conflict? They decide to meet together and discern what God was saying. In keeping our peace in changing times and changing situations in the Church today, we need discernment and an openness to the Spirit.

I give you my peace
A retired couple was alarmed by the threat of nuclear war, so they undertook a serious study of all the inhabited places on the globe. Their goal was to determine where in the world would be a place to be least likely affected by a nuclear war. -A place of ultimate security. They studied and travelled, travelled and studied. Finally they found the place and at Christmas they sent their friend a card from their new home - in the Falkland Islands. However, their 'paradise' was soon turned into a war zone by Great Britain and Argentina. -Jesus said, "Peace I leave you, my peace I give you. Not as the world gives do I give you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. Jesus before departing from this earth, He gave his disciples the best and the most needed gift: His peace.
John Rose in 'John's Sunday Homilies'

In the Gospel we have yet another source of conflict that disturbs the apostles and disciples of the Lord. They know that Jesus is going to leave them as he has accomplished his mission on earth and is about to return to his Father. His imminent departure makes them fearful. How will they manage without him? How will the Community grow? Will they succeed in the mission he has entrusted to them? Jesus has to reassure his disciples that it is good for Him to go so that He might send the Spirit to be with them always. All this while He was physically present to them. He wants to be more intimately present to them and for this to happen He has to leave them. But he is leaving behind His Word and those who keep his word will experience His presence in their lives. "Those who love me will keep my word and my Father will love them and will come to them and make our home with them." Jesus reassures his disciples that the Father is always very near to them. ?Our
faith has to be a response to God's love. Jesus came to tell us this good news. The whole of the Gospel has just this message: The Father loves you and is watching over you. In order to experience the loving Spirit of the Father at work in our lives it was necessary that Jesus should leave his disciples. It is necessary that we walk through this world, at times seemingly alone. It is necessary that we be tested by trials and face conflicts but we need not be afraid, the Father is standing guard always! The gift of the Spirit that Jesus promises us is the gift of peace. "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give it as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, do not let them be afraid."

Peace in the midst of conflict
In his book 'Go down to the Potter's House,' Donagh O'Shea has a story about a king who had two artists in his court who were bitter rivals. One day the king said, "I want to decide once and for all who is the better artist. You must paint the same theme so I can judge between you. And let the theme be peace." The two artists agreed and a week later came back with their paintings. The first presented his painting. It showed a dreamy landscape with rolling hills and a lake with not a ripple on the surface. The whole scene spoke of contentment, peace and stillness. However, the king said to the artist: "Your picture is very pretty, but it puts me to sleep." The second artist presented his work. It showed a thundering waterfall. It was so realistic that one could almost hear the roar of the water as it crashed onto the rocks, hundreds of feet below. "But this is not the scene of peace that I ordered," said the king angrily. The artist made no reply but
motioned to continue looking. Then the king spotted a detail that hitherto had escaped him: among the rocks at the base of the waterfall a small shrub was growing with a bird's nest in its branches. On looking closely at it the king noticed a sparrow sitting on its eggs, her eyes closed. She was waiting for her chicks to be born, a perfect picture of peace. On seeing this, the king was delighted. "I like your picture very much," he said. "You have conveyed a very important thing about peace. It is possible to be at peace even in the middle of the hurly-burly of life.
John Pichappilly in 'The Table of the Word'

Lord, I do have faith! Help my faith!
The author Charles Allen suggests a very simple technique that he found effective in learning how to believe. He suggests that, starting on Monday morning, we keep a careful record of the number of times we think or say that something is impossible. At the end of the day, Allen recommends that we note down that number. On Tuesday morning, he continues, we focus on reducing the number of times we think, feel or say that something is impossible and we note the number at the end of the day. Keep that pattern up everyday, he insists, and by the weekend, we will have succeeded not only in eliminating those negatives impossibles from our mind, but will slowly and hesitatingly find ourselves saying: "Lord I do have faith. Help the little faith I have!" Soon, Charles Allen assures us, we will find that the patterns of our thoughts become patterns of faith.
James Valladares in 'Your Words are Spirit, and they are Life'

Had I known you were watching?
There was a lad, a member of an Indian tribe, who was taken out to a jungle, on the eve of his thirteenth birthday. The idea was that he should spend the night there alone, as a test of his courage, and his suitability for acceptance into young manhood in the tribe. The night was very long. This was his first experience of being alone in such an unfriendly environment. Every sound seemed amplified and every movement in the surrounding forest sent a shiver down his spine. There was no way he could sleep, there was no way to escape as it was dark all around and he did not want to risk going further into the dense jungle. He often despaired whether he could make it through the night; he never knew that a night could be so long. After what seemed ages the dawn began to filter through the trees. Soon he was able to look around and distinguish the trees from the bushes and the briars from the grass. As he looked around he caught sight of some movement behind
one of the trees and approached very carefully. He was amazed to see his father standing there with a hunting rifle in his hand. Apparently, he had been standing there the whole night, watching over his son, lest any of the wild creatures of the jungle attack him. The son's reaction was immediate, as he thought to himself. "If I had known that my dad was watching over me like that, I would have slept soundly all night."
Jack McArdle in 'And that's the Gospel Truth!'

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From Fr. Tony Kadavil 

1: Temples of the Triune God: St. Francis of Assisi was an ardent advocate of the doctrine of the indwelling of God in man. It enabled him to love everyone equally whatever his status in life. One day he met a fellow who had no love for God. As they walked along, they met a man who was blind and paralyzed. St. Francis asked the sightless cripple: “Tell me if I were to restore your eyesight and the use of your limbs, would you love me?” “Ah,” replied the beggar, “I would not only love you, but I would be your slave for the rest of my life.” “See,” said Francis to the man who maintained that he could not love God, “this man would love me if I gave him his sight and his health. Why don’t you love God who created you with eyesight and strong limbs?” That is what Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel. If we love Jesus because of the countless blessings he has given us, and so keep his word as the center of our life, he will start dwelling within us in the company of his Father and the Holy Spirit, making us the temples of the Triune God. (Msgr. Arthur Tonne). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )

 2: Helen Keller’s indwelling God? The story is told that after Helen Keller’s teacher, Annie Sullivan, had given her the names of physical objects in sign language, Miss Sullivan attempted to explain God and tapped out the symbols for the name “God.” Much to Miss Sullivan’s surprise, Helen spelled back, “Thank you for telling me God’s name, Teacher, for He has touched me many times before.” How could Helen Keller have known about God? Although she was blind and deaf, Helen Keller knew God, for God had shown Himself to her. That is the “revelation” of an indwelling God about whom today’s Scripture readings speak.   (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )

3: “The most unpromising boy in my class:” A schoolmaster in France was discouraged with one of his students. He wrote in his roll book concerning this student: “He is the smallest, the meekest, the most unpromising boy in my class.” Half a century later, an election was held in France to select the greatest Frenchman. By popular vote, that meekest, smallest, most unpromising boy was chosen. His name? Louis Pasteur, the founder of modern medicine. When he was seventy-three, a national holiday was declared in his honor. He was too weak to attend the ceremony in Paris, so he sent a message to be read by his son. The message read: “The future belongs not to the conquerors but to the saviors of the world” [Edward Chinn, Wonder of Words (Lima, Ohio: C.S.S. Publishing Co., Inc., 1987), p. 18.] Louis Pasteur was driven by a great purpose. Your name and my name may never be a household word like Pasteur’s, but we, too, can be driven by a great purpose. Christ can give us that purpose. But there is one thing more Christ gives us. He gives us the presence of the Holy Spirit as promised in today’s Gospel. A healthy sense of identity and a driving purpose are not enough in themselves. One thing more is needed. It is the in-dwelling Spirit of the living God. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )

4) Here is an Irish lyric: “Paddy Murphy went to Mass, never missed a Sunday. But Paddy Murphy went to hell, for what he did on Monday.”

5) Don’t lose your mental peace: The Sunday school children had all been photographed with pastor sitting in their center. The pastor was trying to persuade the children to buy a copy of the group photo. “Just think how nice it will be to look at it when you are all grown up and say, ‘There’s Jennifer; she’s a lawyer,’ or ‘That’s Michael; he’s a doctor.’ A small voice at the back of the room rang out, “And there’s our pastor; he’s dead.”

6) Peace and Relaxation: Did you know that…..If you can start the day without caffeine, if you can get going without pep pills, if you can always be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains, if you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles, if you can eat the same food every day and be grateful for it, if you can understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time, if you can take criticism without resentment, if you can ignore a friend’s limited education and never correct him, if you can resist treating a rich friend better than a poor friend, if you can conquer tension without medical help, if you can relax without liquor, if you can sleep without the aid of drugs, …Then you are probably the family dog!

19 Additional anecdotes

1) The ‘Butterfly Effect’     “Today’s real borders are not between nations, but between powerful and powerless, free and fettered, privileged and humiliated. Today no walls can separate humanitarian or human rights crises in one part of the world from national security crises in another. Scientists tell us that the world is so small and interdependent that a butterfly flapping its wings in the Amazon forest can generate a storm on the other side of the earth. The principle is known as the ‘Butterfly Effect.’ Today we realize more than ever, that the world of human activity also has its own ‘Butterfly Effect’ for better or for worse. The classical example is the history-making growth of Christianity in the first century by the Spirit-transformed lives of the apostles and early Christians. (Kofi Annan –“Excerpts from Nobel Prize acceptance speech”) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )

2) Two loves in our lives: Jimmy Carter, in his book, Sources of Strength, tells about interviewing Eloy Cruz, an admirable Cuban pastor, who had tremendous rapport with poor immigrants from Puerto Rico. “What is the secret to your success?” asked Carter. Pastor Cruz replied, “SeƱor Jimmy, we need to have only two loves for our lives, love for God and love for the person who happens to be in front of us at any time.” (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )

3) “You were walking with Mary Susanna Brown, a child of God”: Retired Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes was walking down a street one day. A little girl joined him. When the girl started to turn back home, the famed jurist said, “When your mother asks you where you’ve been, tell her you’ve been walking with Oliver Wendell Holmes.” To which the little girl replied confidently, “And when your folks ask you where you’ve been, tell them you were walking with Mary Susanna Brown, a child of God.” There’s a little girl with a healthy sense of who she is! Psychologists tell us that a healthy sense of identity is one of the most valuable gifts we can give our children. We are God’s children and our God is an indwelling God. First, however, we need that gift ourselves. And if we did not receive it from our parents, we will need to look to God. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )

4) Head and tail fight of bulldog ants: The philosopher Schopenhauer once compared us to a Bulldog Ant. If we cut a Bulldog Ant in half, the front and rear segments will enter into a savage fight. The head will seize the tail with its teeth, while the tail will sting the head with fury. The fight might last for hours. That is the way some of us are on the inside. There is part of us that wants to move ahead and a part that wants to stand absolutely still. There is a part of us that wants success and recognition. There is another part that wants to sit on the river bank and while away the hours. There is a part of us that wants to serve Christ. There is another part that says, “No, I’ve enough to do right now. Let someone else take their turn.” There is a fierce battle going on within many of us. Few of us know what it is to live lives of contentment and peace. Jesus said to his disciples, “I am leaving you with a gift — peace of mind and heart! And the peace I give isn’t fragile like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” What a promise! What a gift! Peace of mind and heart. He can give it to us. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )

5) Love as Jesus loved: Jesus said, “I love you just as the Father loves me; remain in my love.” (John 13:9). During World War II, a prisoner escaped from a labor detail in Auschwitz, a Nazi concentration camp in Poland. The camp commander announced that if he were not found in 24 hours, 10 of the 600 men in Block 14 would be picked at random to starve to death. Next morning the prisoners were lined up and stood all day in the burning heat of the sun. At 6 pm, 10 were selected at random. One was the father of a family. As they were being marched off, a Franciscan priest among the prisoners, St. Maximilian Kolbe, offered to take his place. The Nazi officer in charge was stunned, but he regained his composure and said, “Accepted.” The priest’s heroic act of love for a fellow prisoner is a faint reflection of Jesus’ love for us–and of the Father’s love for Jesus. Can I recall a time when I went out of my way and offered to help someone in need? The greatest love a person can have for his friends is to give his life for them. (John 15:13). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

6) “Are we shot down?” A commercial airline pilot on one occasion made a particularly bad landing. The wheels of the big jet hit the runway with a jarring thud. Afterward, the airline had a policy, which required that the pilot stand at the door while the passengers exited. He was to give each of them a smile and say, “Thanks for flying with us today.” In light of his bad landing, he had a hard time looking the passengers in the eye, thinking that someone would have a smart comment, but no one seemed annoyed. Finally everyone had gotten off except for one little old lady walking with a cane. She approached the pilot and asked, “Sonny, mind if I ask you a question?” “Why, no, Ma’am, what is it?” said the pilot bravely. “Did we land,” she asked, “or were we shot down?” — Maybe you’ve had days like that, days when it felt like you were shot down. Even worse, maybe things are going quite well for you, really. Your friends and your family tell you how fortunate you are. But you don’t feel fortunate. In fact, your life is somewhat tortured by a nagging fear that you cannot even define. It is at those moments that God wants us to turn to Him. He is our Peace, always. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )

7) “Mommy, are you there?”: I recall the story of a little girl who, when trains were popular transportation, was taking her first train ride with her parents. As night descended, the mother took the girl, who was clearly quite anxious, and placed her on the upper bunk of the sleeper. She told her little one that up there she would be nearer to God and that God would watch over her. As silence enveloped the young lady she became afraid and called softly, “Mommy, are you there?” “Yes dear,” came the response. A little later, in a louder voice, the child called, “Daddy, are you there, too?” “Yes dear,” was the reply. After this had been repeated several times one of the passengers sharing their sleeper car finally lost his patience and shouted loudly, “Yes, we’re all here, your father, your mother, your brother, and all your aunts and cousins; now settle down and go to sleep!” There was a moment of silence and then, in hushed tones a little voice asked, “Mommy, was that God?” Jesus, in offering peace, does not say, “I’m here, the Holy Spirit’s here and God is here, now be at peace!” The peace that Jesus offers cannot be had simply by desiring it. The peace of God is a gift; it can only be received as a by-product of Faith. That’s why the world is largely a stranger to it. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )

8) Brendan Behan, an Irish playwright, virtually drank himself to death. His biographer attributes it to an unrelenting sense of guilt. Behan went to England on a mission for the I.R.A. One day he planted a bomb set to go off during rush hour. It exploded as a young woman with her baby was passing by. Both died in the blast! Brendan Behan was overwhelmed with guilt for killing that innocent woman and her baby. And as time went on he increasingly tried to drown his memories and silence his conscience in a bottle, without success! Guilt is a terrible thing. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had a guide in life a guide that will help us avoid those things that we know are wrong, those things that fill us with regret? Christ has promised us such a guide. That guide is the Holy Spirit. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )

9) Loving grandpa and the naughty grandchild: Grandpa walked into the family room and found his little grandson, Jeffy, standing up in his playpen, crying. He looked so pitiful, standing there in his little baseball T-shirt and diaper. His face was red and tear-stained from crying. When Jeffy saw his grandpa, his face lit up in a way that smote the old man’s heart. He immediately reached up his chubby little hands in supplication. “Take me out, Papa, out!” What grandpa could resist such a plea? Not this one! He walked over to the playpen and reached down to lift his little buddy out of captivity and distress. Just then, however, Law and Order stepped into the room. Jeffy’s mother walked out of the kitchen with a dishtowel in her hand and spoke sternly. “No, Jeffy! You are being punished. You have to stay in bed! Leave him right there, Dad.” Oh, fine. Now what’s a grandpa to do? His grandson’s tears and reaching little hands tugged mightily at his heart – but he didn’t want to interfere with a mother’s discipline either. What could he do? Love found a way. Since Grandpa couldn’t take Jeffy out of the playpen, he climbed in with him. “If you’re in the playpen, Buddy, I’m in the playpen. What’s your sentence? How long are you in for?” And finding a big, jolly grandpa suddenly filling his little prison cell, the little boy found comfort even in his captivity. Today’s readings explain God’s indwelling in the Church and in the believers in terms of God’s love for His children. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )

10) The Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky regarded by many as one of the greatest literary geniuses of all time. His books are classics. The Brothers Karamazov is regarded by many as the greatest novel ever written. His stories all have a similar theme, that our redemption is to be found through suffering, not simply physical suffering, but in the anguish of our selfhood. We become fully human, Dostoyevsky believed, by being tested and being strengthened through it [Pulpit Resource, Vol. 9, No. 2 (Logos Art Productions, Inver Grove, Minnesota) pp. 14-15.] The peace which Jesus gave to the disciples involved very little contentment. They had to endure persecutions, misunderstanding and hardships of every kind. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )

11) “But Papa, I love him; he loves me.” In the Broadway play and movie of the same name, Fiddler on the Roof, the chief protagonist is Tevye, a poor Russian Jew struggling to make a life for himself and his family. Economically and politically strapped by the harsh conditions of life prior to and during the Russian Revolution (ca. 1917), Tevye the milkman can hold onto little else except his traditions. However, even these began to crumble when his eldest daughter refuses to acquiesce to an arranged marriage and opts for love amid poverty rather than wealth without love. Further shaken by the marriage of his second daughter to a Russian who favors the revolution, Tevye seems unable to bear anything more. But the final blow comes when his youngest daughter chooses to marry Christian. When Tevye argues with his daughters in favor of the centuries’ old traditions of their people, they counter him on every point with the simple explanation, “But Papa, I love him; he loves me.” Love proved to be a force powerful enough to overcome separatism and the distrust of others and their ways on the grounds that they did not share the same roots, background and beliefs. In Tevye’s family, love began to establish new traditions, though not easily or rapidly. The family which was the early Church also struggled with the tasks of surrendering old ways (as described in the first reading) and of learning and establishing new ones as it grew and developed. Based on love and founded in peace, the Church’s new traditions were inspired, supported and guided by none other than the Holy Spirit. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )

12) Conversion: Joshua, a young Jew, fell in love with Mary, a devout Catholic.When Joshua proposed to Mary, she sought counsel from her parents, each of whom advised her differently. “Convert him to Catholicism!” commanded Mary’s dad, but her mum said, “Love him tenderly and God’s Spirit will work wonders!” Mary’s dad wouldn’t give in and ordered her to work hard at converting Joshua to Catholicism. Mary obeyed and Joshua was duly converted. Weeks later Joshua called off the marriage. “What’s up?” asked Mary’s dad. Mary sobbed: “Joshua wants to be a priest!” (Francis Gonsalves in Sunday Seeds for daily Deeds). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )

13) The little mediator, Wee Willie Winkie: John Ford’s superb family action adventure film, Wee Willie Winkie (1937), is loosely based on Rudyard Kipling’s popular story from his Tales of British India.   The setting of this movie is 19thcentury British-occupied India. Little Priscilla Williams and her widowed mother travel to India to live with their relative, Colonel Williams. The colonel ruled his British Army base in India with an iron fist making of it an oppressive place.  Priscilla is a very curious, precocious child, who gains the nickname of “Private Wee Willie Winkie.”  The little girl quickly charms everyone around her, including a tough Scots Sergeant. After a series of adventures, she wins the hearts of everyone by challenging the prejudicial assumptions of both friends and enemies.  Her innocent, yet challenging questions are instrumental in helping Colonel Williams and Islamic freedom fighter, Khoda Khan, to see the senselessness of violence.  This leads them to a negotiated peace.  Today’s Gospel assures us that it is the abiding presence of God the Father and God the Holy Spirit within us, with the Risen Lord, which gives us lasting peace. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )

14) A New Advocate      When the heartbroken Nathaniel Hawthorne went home to tell his wife that he had been a failure and had been fired from his job in a customhouse, she surprised him with an exclamation of joy. “Now,” she said triumphantly, “you can write your book!” “Yes,” replied Nathaniel, “and what shall we live on while I am writing it?” To his amazement, she opened a drawer and pulled out a substantial sum of money. “Where on earth did you get that?” he exclaimed. “I have always known you were a man of genius,” she told him. “I knew that someday you would write a masterpiece. So every week out of the housekeeping money you gave me I saved a little. So here is enough to last us a whole year!” From her confidence and encouragement came one of the greatest novels of United States literature, The Scarlet Letter. – As a farewell gift Jesus spoke of the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Advocate he would give us. On the Divine level, deeper experiences of God do not make Christians immune to human problems and pain, but Jesus showed that his peace can be present even in the midst of insults, persecution, and approaching death. (Harold Buetow in God Still Speaks: Listen!) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )

15) “Padre, padrecito,” he exclaimed, “I knew you would come.” It happened that a missionary priest was visiting his extensive parish, high in the Andes Mountains. The best way to reach certain parts of the parish was on horseback. Once, toward sunset, the priest got disoriented and could not find the way back to his base camp. Rather than risk exposure at such an altitude, he decided to give his horse free rein and hope to find shelter. After a couple of hours of wandering, he saw a welcome sight. In the distance a lamp burned in a hut. This was unusual because the native people went to bed shortly after dark in order to get up at an early hour. When the priest got near the hut, a man ran out, “Padre, padrecito,” he exclaimed, “I knew you would come.” Surprised, the priest asked how he knew that. The man said, “My mother has been praying all day that a priest would come. She is dying.” The priest went inside, heard the woman’s confession, then gave her Holy Anointing and Holy Communion. The woman softly spoke these final words, “Taita Dios heard me.” Taita Dios is not easy to translate. Dios of course means God, but Taita is hard to translate. It is an intimate, affectionate way of addressing one’s father. Taita is like “daddy,” except that a grown-up man could say it with no embarrassment. Taita Dios, my dear Father, has heard me. In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that if someone keeps Jesus’ word, “the Father will love him.” He then describes an intimacy impossible for us to imagine. He tells us that he and the Father will dwell within us – by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Phil Bloom). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )

16) “I would obey the commandments of God.” When Jimmy Carter was running for President of the United States, one of the more vivid moments in the campaign passed by almost unnoticed. One Sunday morning, candidate Carter had been worshipping at the Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia. When the service was over, he exited the church into the swarm of press encamped on the church’s front lawn. Cameras whirring, video lights glaring, microphones thrust forward, the media mavens moved in for interviews, pushing themselves to think of clever questions to ask a presidential candidate on the way out of a Southern Baptist Church. Suddenly, a reporter, probably in a stroke of luck, shouted out a question that genuinely mattered: “Mr. Carter, suppose when you are President, you get into a situation where the laws of the United States are in conflict with what you understand to be the will of God. Which will you follow, the laws of the state or the commandments of God?” Carter stopped, looked up, and blinked into the bright Georgia sun, obviously turning the question over in his mind. Then, perhaps still “in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day,” perhaps with the Spirit gently whispering the lyrics of the Gospel into his ears, he turned toward the reporter and replied, “I would obey the commandments of God.” Alert aides, alarmed by this candor, unnerved by their candidate’s near-treasonous remark, hurriedly whisked him away from the press and into a waiting car. Carter the politician should have avoided the question, or hewed closely to the law of the land, but Carter the Christian had the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ whispering in his ear, “Do you love me? The world cannot see or know me, but do you love me? Do you keep my commandments?” The reason we need the Holy Spirit murmuring the Gospel in our ears, of course, is that we are notoriously forgetful. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )

17) True peace Christ brings us according to St. Francis Assisi: The Little Flowers of St. Francis , composed at the end of the 14th century by a Tuscan is based on Actus beati Francisci et sociorum eius in divided into 53 short chapters. Here is a gripping story told in the book. “Walking one day in the bitter cold with Brother Leo, St Francis began to teach him about perfect joy and perfect peace. He called to Brother Leo, who was walking on before him, and said to him: ‘If we monks were great holy men who edified all those around us, this would not be perfect joy.’ A little further St. Francis called to Brother Leo again: ‘O Brother Leo, if we monks were to make the lame to walk, if we should make straight the crooked, chase away demons, give sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, speech to the dumb, and, what is even a far greater work, if we should raise the dead after four days, write that this would not be perfect joy.’ ….After some two miles of this Brother Leo finally spoke up and said: ‘Father Francis, I pray thee teach me wherein is perfect joy.’ Francis then teaches him this: ‘If, when we shall arrive at St Mary of the Angels, all drenched with rain and trembling with cold, all covered with mud and exhausted from hunger; if, when we knock at the convent-gate, the porter should come angrily and ask us who we are; if, after we have told him, “We are two of the brethren,” he should answer angrily, “What ye say is not the truth; ye are but two impostors going about to deceive the world, and take away the alms of the poor; begone, I say”; if then he refuse to open to us, and leave us outside, exposed to the snow and rain, suffering from cold and hunger till nightfall – then, if we accept such injustice, such cruelty and such contempt with patience, without being ruffled and without murmuring, believing with humility and charity that the porter really knows us, and that it is God who maketh him to speak thus against us, write down, O Brother Leo, that this is perfect joy. And if we knock again, and the porter come out in anger to drive us away with oaths and blows, as if we were vile impostors, saying, “Begone, miserable robbers! To the hospital, for here you shall neither eat nor sleep!” – and if we accept all this with patience, with joy, and with charity, O Brother Leo, write that this indeed is perfect joy. And if, urged by cold and hunger, we knock again, calling to the porter and entreating him with many tears to open to us and give us shelter, for the love of God, and if he come out more angry than before, exclaiming, “These are but importunate rascals, I will deal with them as they deserve’; and taking a knotted stick, he seize us by the hood, throwing us on the ground, rolling us in the snow, and shall beat and wound us with the knots in the stick – if we bear all these injuries with patience and joy, thinking of the sufferings of our Blessed Lord, which we would share out of love for him, write, O Brother Leo, that here, finally, is perfect joy.”‘” ….I believe that what St Francis was saying to Brother Leo was that the Peace of Christ comes through our acts of obedience especially obedience in times of suffering. We will do well if we remember that true peace is the assurance that one day our Brother Jesus will return to take us back, back to our Father’s house. So, do not let your hearts be troubled neither let them be afraid. Amen. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )

18) Peanut in our pocket: It’s like a story that someone tells about a young lady named Sally. Sally was growing up, becoming a woman preparing to go off to college. Her mother had struggled to provide for her education, an especially difficult task since her father had died several years earlier. Her mother made every effort within her power to raise Sally right. Now she would be on her own, an exciting and frightening time. Sally had strong reservations about leaving her mother alone to mind the farm and do the chores. She was also nervous about having to find her own way without her mother’s guidance. As she prepared to meet the bus, bags packed and ready, her mother took her arm and said to her, “You’re gonna see things an’ do things you ain’t never heard of, and you won’t know which way to turn sometimes. You ‘member how you used to tug on my apron string when you wanted something and I’d see to what you was after? You ‘member how when you was too close to the road and I’d holler to you to tell you to get away from there’?” her mother gently reminded her. “Well, I’m gonna be there with you in your heart, but it’ll be up to you to listen to what I told you. I can’t kiss your hurts when you fall down an’ skin your knee or quiet you when the big storms come rollin’ through. But, I’ll be close as a peanut in your pocket when you need me. If you’re afraid, I’ll stand with you. And if you are hurting, you can feel me close, and if you do wrong, I’ll whisper the truth to ya so you won’t do it no more.” The tears came to both their eyes. Her mother opened the dresser drawer and took out a neatly folded handkerchief and placed it in the pocket of Sally’s dress. Upon leaving, Sally felt completely alone. As she fought back the tears, she reached into her dress pocket to take out the handkerchief her mother had placed there. Then she noticed a knot in one corner just like her mother used to tie her milk money in her handkerchief. Upon untying the knot, she found a single peanut. She knew that her dear mother would always be with her in her heart (3. Parables submitted by Ron Alberston). The Good News is that God wants to dwell in our lives. God wants to take up residence in our hearts. God wants to be with us always, as close as a peanut in our pocket. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )

19) “Watch Jimmie in chapel:” In his book, The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat, Oliver Sacks tells the story of Jimmie, a former sailor, now a patient in a nursing home, whose severe neurological disorder had left him with a profound and permanent amnesia. He simply had no memory of anything from 1945 on. Having no ability to retrieve the past and no ability to construct a meaningful present, Jimmie lacked the continuity that makes for a sense of the self. He was, wrote Sacks, a person who “wore a look of infinite sadness and resignation.” However, when Sacks asked the Sisters who ran the nursing home whether Jimmie had lost his soul, the Sisters were outraged by the question. “Watch Jimmie in chapel,” they said, “and judge for yourself.” So Sacks did watch Jimmie in chapel, and there he observed an astounding transformation. He saw an intensity and steadiness in Jimmie that he had not observed before. As he received the Sacrament, there was “perfect alignment of his spirit with the spirit of the Mass.” There in worship, Jimmie was no longer at the mercy of a faulty and fallible memory. “He was wholly held, absorbed ….” He whose mind was broken was given in worship, “a continuity and unity so seamless it could not permit any break.” Jimmie in his own way is like all of us. In the final analysis, none of us is able to construct a self. We must all be given a story and a continuity not of our own making. Where we have no faithful memory, God remembers, and by the grace of God, the Spirit whispers the lyrics of the saving Gospel in our ears. (The story, from Oliver Sacks, The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat, is reported in Craig Dykstra, “Memory and Truth,” Theology Today, XLIV/2, p. 162). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ ) L/19
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SERMONS.COM
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 Calvin and Hobbes

One of the best newspaper cartoons of all time is Calvin and Hobbes. One day Calvin and Hobbes come marching into the living room early one morning. His mother is seated there in her favorite chair. She is sipping her morning coffee. She looks up at young Calvin. She is amused and amazed at how he is dressed. Calvin’s head is encased in a large space helmet. A cape is draped around his neck, across his shoulders, down his back and is dragging on the floor. One hand is holding a flashlight and the other a baseball bat.  

“What’s up today?” asks his mom.
“Nothing, so far,” answers Calvin.
“So far?” she questions.
“Well, you never know,” Calvin says, “Something could happen today.” Then Calvin marches off, “And if anything does, by golly, I’m going to be ready for it!”  

Calvin’s mom looks out at the reading audience and she says, “I need a suit like that!”

That’s the way many of us feel as we see the news and deal with life. Sometimes this world seems quite violent and people seem to be at each other’s throats. A suit like that would help, so we can say with Calvin, “Whatever may come my way, I’m going to be ready for it! Bring it on!”

Well, I don’t have a suit like Calvin’s to give you this morning, but I do have word for this morning: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

There is a defining phrase in that statement. One that tells us what kind of peace it is that Christ gives us. Listen to it again and see if you can pick it out: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” The defining phrase is: “Not as the world gives.” Do you see how that defines God’s peace? The world promises peace through the rule of law. Law and order is the only way for a society and a people to experience peace and law and order must be kept by the aggressive use of force. That’s the only way that the world can bring about peace. 

But here is how Jesus will give you peace. If you obey his word He and the Father will come to you and make a home with you. Right in your heart. Not by force but by choice. They will abide in your heart bringing peace. The world’s peace is peace through strength. The Lord’s peace is peace through surrender…

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 3. Little League season

It is the heart of Little League season, those spring days when children get their first experience of playing on a team, of learning about the rules of play, and of listening to and heeding their coach. Do you remember that first voice spoken into your ear as you stood at home plate, gripping the bat like a lifeline, waiting for that first pitch?  

Unlike the actual game, when coaches call out from the sidelines, in a baseball batting practice the coach is right behind the Little Leaguer — squaring their shoulders, positioning the bat, adjusting their grip, evening out their elbows, speaking instructions every step of the way. Chances are if you still play ball you still hear the echo of that first coaching voice in your head…

Elbows down.
Bat back to your ear.
Keep your eye on the ball.
Swing! 

Some voices stay with us forever. What voices have spoken into your life? Can you still hear them?

 There are voices of encouragement that urge us to keep trying, keep working, keep doing what we know is right.

There are also those voices we hear that accuse us of not being good enough, of being a failure, of not deserving anything better than what we’re getting.  

The voices we listen to in our heart and soul can strengthen us or shatter us, push us forward or pull us down. The power of the Voice we ultimately answer to can determine the destiny and direction of our life. 

In today’s gospel text from John, it is the power and authority of Jesus’ voice that transforms the life of one man…
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4. Live in the Light

I love a quotation and paraphrase of Martin Luther: “Can a rock that has been in the sunlight all day not fail to give off warmth and heat at night?” Can a rock that has been in the warmth and heat of the sun light all day not fail to give off warmth and heat at night? Can a Christian who has lived in the sunlight of God’s love not fail to give off warmth and love? No. That is why you have to have first things first. You don’t say to others, “Start loving each other. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice.” No, no, no. First, we need to live in the sunlight of God’s love. We need to bake in the sunlight of God’s compassion. We need to absorb God’s light into us. And then…we start to give off the love. May your light shine on me, God. May your love shine on us, God, so that there will be peace in our family and on the earth.  

Edward F. Markquart, The Father is Still Living in Me
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5. A Greater Power Watching

There was a nature show on television about a black bear that gave birth to two cubs. One cub died right away. Three weeks later the mother died and the remaining cub was left to fend for itself. An orphaned cub in that condition is like a walking buffet for predators. And of course the camera immediately showed a hungry-looking mountain lion.  

One day the orphan cub encountered a giant male black bear. The little cub cowered at the bear's sheer mass. The larger bear peered around and seemed to realize that the mother bear wasn't anywhere to be found. He gave the little cub a friendly nudge. The camera then showed the little bear happily trailing along after the larger one. The adoption papers were signed, sealed and registered at the county seat in that nudge. Papa bear proceeded to show the cub how to grub for insects and how to catch fish and how to scratch his back against a tree.  

One day the two bears became separated. The cub began to cry and looked frantically for his new father, but couldn't find him anywhere. The cub approached a stream where he'd learned to fish and something caught his attention. He looked up to see a mountain lion ready to pounce. That same mountain lion had stalked the cub for the entire show. There was no way that mountain lion would've gone for that cub with Papa bear around, but now.... 

The camera zoomed in on the cub. He automatically mimicked the posture of his adopted father when threatened. He stood on his hind legs and bared his teeth. Then, in the exactly the same way his new father would have done, this cub let loose a mighty growl that should have reverberated throughout the forest. But, only a tiny bear cub squeak came out.  

Well, you know what was coming. But, to everybody's astonishment the mountain lion lowered his head and ran off in the opposite direction. 

The camera panned back to the proud little cub still standing tall on his hind legs. And then all the viewers saw what that little cub Could Not: a few yards behind him, at full, ferocious height, his sharp, white teeth bared in a snarl, stood Daddy bear. He may not have made a sound, but he was there.

And even though the cub couldn't see his father, his father stood guard, protecting his young. The little cub had power available greater than anything he could produce on his own. There was a greater power watching over him.  

Jesus said, [21] "They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them."

Billy D. Strayhorn, What Difference Does It Make?
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6. Selfish and Altruistic at the Same Time  

Speaking about how human beings spend their time and thus may be pictured in novels, E. M. Forster says, "When human beings love they try to get something. They also try to give something, and this double aim makes love more complicated than food or sleep. It is selfish and altruistic at the same time, and no amount of specialization in one direction quite atrophies the other" (Aspects of the Novel [Orlando: Harcourt, 1927] 50).

On the verge of his departure from them, Jesus says to his loved ones, "If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I" (John 14:28b). This is so hard! How can the disciples rejoice that Jesus is leaving? What makes possible that kind of atrophied selfishness and robust altruism?

Mary Hinkle Shore, Enough
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7. The Overwhelming Future
 This week someone left a cartoon on the Xerox machine at my office in which a man was lying on the couch of a psychiatrist. When the psychiatrist asked the client what his problem was he confided that he had all kinds of fears about the future. “Doctor,” he began, “I’m worried about the energy crisis, inflation, the situation in the Middle East, political and social upheaval in Africa, our diplomatic relations with China …” I wish I could remember all of the concerns of the man in the cartoon; there were at least a dozen. In the final frame the psychiatrist responded, “Shut up and move over,” after which he proceeded to get on the couch with the patient.

A cartoon such as this would be much more amusing if it did not contain so much truth. The problems of the future are almost overwhelming. Those in a position to know the facts are privately saying that things are not nearly as bad as they seem—they are worse. Public officials seem to have taken the same approach to our national problems as many doctors do with a terminally ill patient—keep the unpleasant truth from them as long as possible.
Jesus doesn’t hold to that particular philosophy.  

Bob Deffinbaugh, Facing the Future: A Prescription for Peace
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8. A Place of Peace 

Jesus was preparing his disciples for tough times. He was about to ascend to the Father and they would be on their own -- left to find their way through this world alone. And yet, they would not be alone. For he would be with them in the presence of the Comforter, the Counselor, the Holy Spirit. In 1520 Ferdinand Magellan battled for an entire year to find a passage around South America. There at the very tip of the continent, in its icy waters he encountered some of the worst weather anywhere on earth. Raging seas, towering ice floes, and a mutinous crew plagued his efforts. When he finally made his way through those straits (which today bear his name -- the Straits of Magellan), he entered into a great body of water that lay beyond, and as he and his men lifted their faces to heaven and gave thanks to God, he named the new ocean "The Peaceful One -- the Pacific Ocean."

In his words this morning, Jesus desires to lead us in the same way to a place of peace. It is his hope to direct our feet and steer our lives from the paths that would lead to hell to his place of peace. "Let not your hearts be troubled," he says, "neither let them be afraid."

Lee Griess, Sermons for Lent/Easter, CSS Publishing Company
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9. No Reason to Be Afraid 

The late advice columnist Ann Landers use to receive something like 10,000 letters a month. When asked what seems to be the most common topic, she answered that most people seem to be afraid of something. They are afraid of losing their health, their job, or their family. They are afraid of upsetting their neighbor, alienating a friend, or committing a social faux pas. Many are even afraid when there is no reason to be afraid. Ours is a world of fearful people.

Lee Griess, Sermons for Lent/Easter, CSS Publishing Company
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10. I Want Peace 

When Dante knocked at the door of the Franciscan monastery at Lunigiana he was asked, "What do you want?" He replied, "Peace!"

 Traditional
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11. Mommy, Was That God? 

I recall the story of a little girl who, when trains were popular transportation, was taking her first train ride with her parents. As night descended, the mother took the girl, who was clearly quite anxious, and placed her on the upper bunk of the sleeper. She told her little one that up there she would be nearer to God and that God would watch over her.

 As silence enveloped the young lady she became afraid and called softly, "Mommy, are you there?"

"Yes dear," came the response.

A little later, in a louder voice, the child called, "Daddy, are you there, too?"

"Yes dear," was the reply.

 After this had been repeated several times one of the passengers sharing their sleeper car finally lost his patience and shouted loudly, "Yes, we're all here, your father, your mother, your brother, and all your aunts and cousins; now settle down and go to sleep!"

 There was a moment of silence and then… in hushed tones a little voice asked, “Mommy, was that God?”

We never truly outgrow the uneasiness, the fear of being abandoned, especially in unknown
settings and circumstances, do we?

Imagine the disciples. They have left everything to follow Jesus. They have spent the better
part of 3 years with him, every day, night and day. They are all in the prime of their lives, and
suddenly, earnestly, Jesus starts to talk about “going away.” They ask questions, clearly anxious about being left alone. And Jesus promises them that he will not leave them orphaned. [cf. John 14:18] Then he issues a rather clear directive to them. “Those who love me will keep my word ... whoever does not love me does not keep my words;” [from John 14:23-4] And he follows this up with a reminder, “and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.” [John 14:24b]
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Stories from Father Tony Kadavil's Stable:

# 1: Helen Keller’s indwelling God? The story is told that after Helen Keller’s teacher, Annie Sullivan, had given her the names of physical objects in sign language, Miss Sullivan attempted to explain God and tapped out the symbols for the name "God." Much to Miss Sullivan’s surprise, Helen spelled back, "Thank you for telling me God’s name, Teacher, for he has touched me many times before." How could Helen Keller have known about God? Although she was blind and deaf, Helen Keller knew God, for God had shown Himself to her. That is “revelation” of an indwelling God about whom today’s scripture speaks.  
# 2: Temples of the Triune God: St. Francis of Assisi was an ardent advocate of the doctrine of the indwelling of God in man. It enabled him to love every one equally whatever his status in life. One day he met a fellow who had no love for God. As they walked along they met a man who was blind and paralyzed. St. Francis asked the sightless cripple: “Tell me if I were to restore your eyesight and the use of your limbs, would you love me?” “Ah,” replied the beggar, “I would not only love you but I would be your slave for the rest of my life.” “See,” said Francis to the man who maintained that he could not love God, “this man would love me if I gave him his sight and his health. Why don’t you love God Who created you with eyesight and strong limbs?” That is what Jesus tells us in today’s gospel. If we love him because of the countless blessings he has given us by “keeping his words” he will start dwelling within us in the company of his Father and the Holy Spirit, making us the temples of the Triune God. (Msgr. Arthur Tonne)

 # 3: The most unpromising boy in my class:" A schoolmaster in France was discouraged with one of his students. He wrote in his roll book concerning this student: "He is the smallest, the meekest, the most unpromising boy in my class." Half a century later, an election was held in France to select the greatest Frenchman. By popular vote, that meekest, smallest, most unpromising boy was chosen. His name? Louis Pasteur, the founder of modern medicine. When he was seventy-three, a national holiday was declared in his honor. He was too weak to attend the ceremony in Paris, so he sent a message to be read by his son. The message read: "The future belongs not to the conquerors but to the saviors of the world" [Edward Chinn, Wonder of Words (Lima, Ohio: C.S.S. Publishing Co., Inc., 1987), p. 18.] Louis Pasteur was driven by a great purpose. Your name and my name may never be a household word like Pasteur's, but we, too, can be driven by a great purpose. Christ can give us that purpose. But there is one thing more Christ gives us. He gives us the presence of the Holy Spirit as promised in today’s gospel. A healthy sense of identity and a driving purpose are not enough in themselves. One thing more is needed. It is the in-dwelling Spirit of the living God.

# 4: Here is an Irish lyric: "Paddy Murphy went to Mass, never missed a Sunday. But Paddy Murphy went to hell, for what he did on Monday."

# 4:  Don’t lose your mental peace: The Sunday school children had all been photographed with pastor sitting in their center. The pastor was trying to persuade the children to buy a copy of the group photo.

"Just think how nice it will be to look at it when you are all grown up and say, 'There's Jennifer; she's a lawyer,' or 'That's Michael; he's a doctor.'

A small voice at the back of the room rang out, "And there's our pastor; he's dead."

# 5:  Peace and Relaxation: Did you know that.....If you can start the day without caffeine, if you can get going without pep pills, if you can always be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains, if you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles, if you can eat the same food every day and be grateful for it, if you can understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time, if you can take criticism without resentment, if you can ignore a friend's limited education and never correct him, if you can resist treating a rich friend better than a poor friend, if you can conquer tension without medical help, if you can relax without liquor, if you can sleep without the aid of drugs, ...Then You Are Probably The Family Dog!

****

PEACE

I rest beneath the Almighty's shade,
My griefs expire, my troubles cease;
Thou, Lord, on whom my soul is stayed,
Wilt keep me still in perfect peace.
Charles Wesley.

Safety consists not in the absence of danger but in the presence of God.
Source Unknown.

Society of International Law, in London, states that during the last 4,000 years there have been only 268 years of peace in spite of good peace treaties. In the last 3 centuries there have been 286 wars on the continent of Europe alone.
J.K. Laney, Marching Orders, p 50.

Peace that Jesus gives is not the absence of trouble, but is rather the confidence that He is there with you always.
Source Unknown.

The Power of Peace
As I perused an old copy of The Wonderful Word edited by Leon Tucker, I came upon a tremendous sermon by W.H. Griffith- Thomas entitled "The Power of Peace." He gave an exposition of 2 Thess. 3:16, "Now the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always by all means." His outline should prove helpful to Christian workers.
I. The Nature of Peace
1. Peace of a quiet conscience (Rom. 8:33-35; three questions)
2. Peace of a restful mind (Phil. 4:7)
3. Peace of a surrendered will
4. Peace of a hopeful heart (Isaiah 50:7)
5. Peace of loving fellowship
II. The Source of Peace
1. Peace with God (Rom. 5:1)
2. The God of peace (Rom. 15:33)
3. The peace of God (Phil. 4:7)
4. The Lord of peace (2 Thess. 3:16)
III. The Channel of Peace
"The Lord of peace Himself give you peace always by all means" (2 Thess. 3:16)
IV. The Duration of Peace
"...give you peace always."
V. The Secret of Peace
"The Lord of peace Himself give you peace..."
W.H. Griffith, The Power of Peace.

Long ago a man sought the perfect picture of peace. Not finding one that satisfied, he announced a contest to produce this masterpiece. The challenge stirred the imagination of artists everywhere, and paintings arrived from far and wide. Finally the great day of revelation arrived. The judges uncovered one peaceful scene after another, while the viewers clapped and cheered.
The tensions grew. Only two pictures remained veiled.
As a judge pulled the cover from one, a hush fell over the crowd.
A mirror-smooth lake reflected lacy, green birches under the soft blush of the evening sky. Along the grassy shore, a flock of sheep grazed undisturbed. Surely this was the winner.
The man with the vision uncovered the second painting himself, and the crowd gasped in surprise. Could this be peace?
A tumultuous waterfall cascaded down a rocky precipice; the crowd could almost feel its cold, penetrating spray. Stormy-gray clouds threatened to explode with lightning, wind and rain. In the midst of the thundering noises and bitter chill, a spindly tree clung to the rocks at the edge of the falls. One of its branches reached out in front of the torrential waters as if foolishly seeking to experience its full power.
A little bird had built a nest in the elbow of that branch. Content and undisturbed in her stormy surroundings, she rested on her eggs. With her eyes closed and her wings ready to cover her little ones, she manifested peace that transcends all earthly turmoil.
Berit Kjos, A Wardrobe from the King, pp. 45-46.

The Personnel Journal reported this incredible statistic: since the beginning of recorded history, the entire world has been at peace less than eight percent of the time! In its study, the periodical discovered that of 3530 years of recorded history, only 286 years saw peace. Moreover, in excess of 8000 peace treaties were made--and broken.
Moody Bible Institute, Today In The Word, June, 1988, p.33.

Peace is such a precious jewel, that I would give anything for it but truth.
Matthew Henry.

Duke University did a study on "peace of mind." Factors found to contribute greatly to emotional and mental stability are: 1) the absence of suspicion and resentment. Nursing a grudge was a major factor in unhappiness. 2) Not living in the past. An unwholesome preoccupation with old mistakes and failures leads to depression. 3) Not wasting time and energy fighting conditions you cannot change. Cooperate with life, instead of trying to run away from it. 4) Force yourself to stay involved with the living world. Resist the temptation to withdraw and become reclusive during periods of emotional stress. 5) Refuse to indulge in self-pity when life hands you a raw deal. Accept the fact that nobody gets through life without some sorrow and misfortune. 6) Cultivate the old-fashioned virtues--love, humor, compassion and loyalty. 7) Do not expect too much of yourself. When there is too wide a gap between self-expectation and your ability to meet the goals you have set, feelings of inadequacy are inevitable. 8) Find something bigger than yourself to believe in. Self-centered egotistical people score lowest in any test for measuring happiness.
Source Unknown.

A former president of the Norwegian Academy of Sciences and historians from England, Egypt, Germany, and India have come up with some startling information: Since 3600 B.C. the world has known only 292 years of peace! During this period there have been 14,351 wars, large and small, in which 3.64 billion people have been killed. The value of the property destroyed would pay for a golden belt around the world 97.2 miles wide and 33 feet thick. Since 650 B.C. there have also been 1656 arms races, only 16 of which have not ended in war. The remainder ended in the economic collapse of the countries involved.
Source Unknown.

In 1555, Nicholas Ridley was burned at the stake because of his witness for Christ. On the night before Ridley's execution, his brother offered to remain with him in the prison chamber to be of assistance and comfort. Nicholas declined the offer and replied that he meant to go to bed and sleep as quietly as ever he did in his life. Because he knew the peace of God, he could rest in the strength of the everlasting arms of his Lord to meet his need. So can we!
Source Unknown.