September 17 2019 18:00 | Almudena Cathedral

Meditation of Joan

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Orthodox Metropolitan Bishop, Albania

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” 
John 14:27  

Before His departure, Our Lord Jesus Christ, knowing that his disciples would face a cruel world of turmoil and distress, gives them a powerful gift, His peace, stronger than all the weapons of the world. He emphasizes that He gives the peace not as the world gives, revealing to us two kinds of peace, His peace and the peace of the world; the true and eternal peace and the false and transient peace. 
The peace that world gives is unstable, in words only and does not last for a long time, because has no foundations. It depends on human will, that is often poisoned by selfishness and greed, on people's unsteady emotions and on their rapidly changing interests. The peace of the world is at best but an external one. God himself, through the mouth of his prophets, says for this kind of peace: They say peace, peace when there is no peace (Jeremiah 6:14; Ezekiel 13:16, Micah 3:5, mentioning some of them) 
The false encouragements given by those who should have been the true guides of the people turned them into false prophets. In our times, where lies and half-truths rule, there is a desperate need for the prophetic role of the church. The prophetic role of the church is to say what God is saying. Often the truth does not coincide with what people want to hear. But we cannot compromise the truth. Living with the truth is not easy, but it is the only way to be ontologically free. Genuine Christianity is not to entertain people, but to save them. We must proclaim always and everywhere that there is no peace without the presence of God and without his justice.
Only the peace that Christ gives is solid and substantial; it is a spiritual peace that comes from a reconciliation of man with God and restoration of right and true relations with Him. His peace is an internal peace, a peace that can withstand all the storms of life that rage without. The peace of Christ calms the heart that is troubled and free it from fear, because this peace comes from His presence in our heart, filling us with love. Perfect love casts out fear, writes St John. 
Christ gives to the word peace, not only a spiritual and sacramental meaning, but also an eschatological meaning. His peace is an anticipation of the Kingdom; being the presence of God himself in us, for God is the one and only source of peace. The Messianic title ‘Prince of peace’ that we find in Isaiah applies in its fullness to Christ, the ‘King of peace’.
But we must always bear in mind that a human being is a communitarian being. As Tertullian wrote– unus christianus nullus christianus. Christianity from the very beginning existed as a corporate reality, as a community. To be Christian meant to belong to the community, not as isolated individual. Therefore, the peace that Christ gives is not a withdrawal into oneself. Our personal peace is realized in the peace of communion and acquires a communitarian and social dimension. ‘Christ is our peace - says St Basil -he who seeks peace seeks Christ... Without love for others, without an attitude of peace towards all men, no one can be called a true servant of Christ’. Blessed are the peacemakers, -says the Lord - for they will be called children of God.
Beloved sisters and brothers in Christ! Our God is God of peace and we are called to serve it. Let us first make peace in our hearts and after it will flow forth reaching the others. Just as an extinguished candle cannot shine, so we cannot spread peace unless we ourselves have peace in our hearts. ‘Make peace in your own heart – said St Seraphim of Sarov - and thousands around you will be saved.’ AMEN