In the Gospel this past Sunday we hear Jesus tell his disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” Pope Francis reflected on these words during his Regina Coeli address, well aware that the world is suffering so much violence and conflict.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” – John 14:27
These words from Christ come at a moment that is not peaceful. When He speaks to them, the Last Supper is concluding and He is about to enter into His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. His Passion is at hand and He will die the following day. In spite of this, and although He knows of His Apostles’ shortcomings and failures, He wishes them peace.
Pope Francis explains, “Judas has left to betray him, Peter is about to deny him, and almost everyone else to abandon him. The Lord knows this, and yet, he does not rebuke, he does not use severe words, he does not give harsh speeches. Rather than demonstrate agitation, he remains kind till the end.”
It is clear that Jesus lived a peaceful life throughout the entirety of His time on earth—even in His final hours He is at peace—not angry, upset, or the least bit unkind to His apostles or even His accusers. He isn’t resentful or impatient. As Pope Francis says, He is completely at peace, and that peace “comes from his meek heart accustomed to trust.”
“This is the source of the peace Jesus gives us. For no one can leave others peace if they do not have it within themselves. No one can give peace unless that person is at peace,” says the Holy Father.
Jesus offers us His peace at the most difficult moments, when He knows He will be betrayed, falsely accused, tortured, and unjustly executed. Pope Francis tells us that Jesus “wants us to behave that way too since we too are heirs of his peace.”
The witness of peace, says Pope Francis, is worth more than “a thousand words and many sermons”. He instructs us to reflect on how we behave. Are we working to solve conflict and create peace? Or are we reactionary, losing our temper, deepening divisions?
It isn’t always easy to be peaceful when things are out of control. These are the moments that we must accept the gift of Jesus’ peace. And nothing—no sin or situation—should keep us from opening our hearts to that peace.
Pope Francis says, ”The more we feel our hearts are agitated, the more we sense we are nervous, impatient, angry inside, the more we need to ask the Lord for the Spirit of peace.”