“Making Known Christ’s Peace”
May 1, 2016:
The Sixth Sunday Of Easter
Acts 16: 9 – 15/ Psalm 67/Revelation 21: 1 - 2, 22 – 27/ John 14: 23 - 29
Bishop Ariel Cornelio P. Santos
These past several weeks, it seems like the word to us is consistent on love. Loving God; loving our neighbor. Today, Jesus in the gospel equates loving to obeying Him. Obedience brings glory, fulfillment, joy, and pride to a parent, a teacher, a mentor and a trainor. Disobedience causes them anxiety. When parents give permission to their teenage daughter or son to go to a party, they will give a certain time to go home. They will also ask their child to text or to give a call to know of their safety. If the child doesn’t do as he is told, what does this cause the parent to feel? They worry or they are anxious because the child did not obey. Children don’t know that this happens to their parents, but the simple disobedience just like this can bring anxiety and worry to their parents.
On a bigger scale, disobedience results in the realization of the good intention of parents in giving the command. Realization is designed to lead back to obedience. In the story of the prodigal son, he disobeyed and he did not stay with his father, but there came a point in his life that it brought him to the realization that it is better in the house of his father. Sometimes, it takes us to a point where it will not punish us, but rather to make us realize how much better it is when we do obey because the command is for our good. It is not for the ego of the mentor, the trainor, a parent or even God. It is for the good of those receiving the commandment and actually doing them.
Jesus said, “The word that I speak to you are not actually mine, but they are the Father’s, the perfect parent.” Parents give their children commands and rules and these are for their good. Jesus would say, “If you, being evil, know how to give good things to your children, how much more your Father who is in heaven?” He is the ultimate loving Father. What I am actually teaching you is not my teaching, but the Father’s. I received the teaching. St. Paul says in 1Corinthians 11:23,“For I received from the Lord, that which also I deliver to you.” In 1Corithians 15:3, he says, “I deliver to you as of first importance what I also received.” It is not an innovation or something that he thought of, dreamt of, had an idea or like a eureka moment. I am just a ‘delivery boy’ so to speak. This is to say that I am not infallible or that I am a prophet that only speaks the word of God. I am still an earthen vessel and I am not the source of the teaching. The Catholic Faith has been passed on from generation to generation and we are actually speaking of the gospel, the Catholic Faith that was preached before that was believed by all always and everywhere. Realize that we are to obey God, not man.
Romans 7:12 says, “So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.” There is this misunderstanding about the Law because of the misinterpretation of what St. Paul said in the New Testament that we are freed from the Law so the Law does not matter anymore. We are freed from the curse of the Law, but we are not freed from the obedience of the Law. Obedience to the Law is for our good. If we don’t have a law to obey, we have no good to bring to ourselves. Obedience to the Law is good. The command is holy, righteous and good. What I am teaching I received and it is good. Unless we dwell into heresy, then, you can tell me. We are freed from the curse of the Law, but not from the Law itself and obedience to it.
We sing, “I am free. I am free to be a servant of the Lord.” We are free to be servants, to obey because this brings good to us; but first it is glory to God, which should be our main concern. We are free to be servants for our good. Our good was, is, and will always be God’s will. In fact, at creation, everything God did was not just good but very good. This is our Father. We can’t help but do good because His nature is good and this is His will for us.
I ask you, “Do you want good for yourself?” It is simply by obeying. There is no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey. How do we obey? Step one is: know what to obey. Listen! Many do not obey because in the first place, they don't know what to obey. They don’t listen. In the din of strange voices and deceptive ideologies and this age of information, listen to God’s still small voice. Learn to listen. Many of us are proud, and many of us say, “I know that. I don’t have to listen because I know it.” Listen to God’s still small voice knocking on our door.
How do we listen? Turn off mind, turn on heart; set aside your pride and bring out humility. Walk by faith, not by sight; lean not on your own understanding, and incline your ear. We think everything is available online. Not everything is “googleable.” What God has to say to us is not “googleable.” We have to exert effort to incline our ear. It is not as easy as the push of the button or the entering of a certain word or phrase in the box. We have to incline our ear and tune in to the Holy Spirit.
The song “Trust and Obey” says, “But we never can prove the delights of His love until all on the altar we lay; for the favor He shows for the joy He bestows are for them who will trust and obey.” Then, the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard our heart and mind. The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, includes our comprehension which we think is superior. Sometimes, we think that our understanding is superior. We think we know it better and know it all, but the peace of God surpasses all comprehension even that which we could reach. The peace of God is beyond this.
Peace is Shalom, the God-kind of life – the Zoe, in the Greek, which is God’s will for us. Peace is not the denial of problems, challenges, conflicts, oppositions, strife or turmoil. It is confidence, joy in the midst of all. Confidence comes from the Latin phrase con fi Deo, which means with faith in God. When Jesus was in the boat with His disciples, He did not promise that there was not going to be a storm in the way because of His presence. There was the storm, but Jesus was there, and the disciples missed the meaning of peace when they should have confidence in Him.
Peace doesn’t mean that we are not concerned or we are in denial of certain things that we need to face. Peace means we are undaunted, unfazed, and unmoved by situations. We are all facing and experiencing challenges today that we need to solve and resolve. We can have peace, not which the world gives, but the peace that God can give. The world can give us something that is temporary and fleeting for pleasure. Getting into drugs or alcohol may provide a temporary solution, but our problems are still going to be there. We may get a certain high, and forget our problems for a while. When we wake up in the morning, to our problems is added another problem, which is a headache.
This is what the world gives to us. We have locks, alarms, and passwords. If we travel and we lock our suitcases, we can become a victim of “tanim-bala” because our locks won’t work. We have all the security systems, but the irony of it is that we are more paranoid today than we were before. We are more anxious today. The most guarded and secured VIP is the most paranoid. They can’t even go out wherever they want to by themselves. The world gives temporary peace. If we can't believe the news today, and we can't close eyes and make it go away, and if caught in a landslide and there is no escape from reality, we need to open our eyes, look up to the skies and see because the peace that we need comes from there.
The peace of God has nothing to do with externals, but it is inner peace, the assurance of God's truth. Jesus spoke, “Shalom,” to the disciples in a locked room where they were hiding at a time when they were thinking that they were being hunted by Jesus’ murderers. They were so afraid and were in tremendous fear. This is when Jesus spoke to them, “Peace be with you.” At the dismissal, the blessing given is, “The peace of God, which passes all understanding, let it keep your heart and mind in the knowledge and the ability and the love of God, our Father.” He is not just our loving Father, but also an able God. He is Sovereign and He can provide us peace. The things which we worry about are nothing to Him. When Jesus and the disciples were in the boat, it went away with a word. Jesus simply just ‘sshh’ it and the wind obeyed.
The problems, the challenges we are facing right now would not be something that we can say is equal to a storm that threatens our lives. We have not reached that point, but let not our hearts be troubled for the kingdom of God is an everlasting Kingdom. We belong to it and it cannot be shaken. In order to experience the fullness of that Kingdom, we need to obey His commandments because they are for our good. In order to obey, we first need to listen so that we would understand the commandments and hopefully appreciate them.
We have to get rid of the scales from our eyes and the glitter of the world. We have to get rid of the accumulated, hardened wax that plugs up our ears. We have to get rid of the hardness of our hearts and the stubbornness of mind because when we are free from encumbrance, it is going to be easier to believe despite all the oppositions and the things that we experience that are not necessarily something that can be described as a bed of roses.
Again, from the song “Trust and Obey,” it says, “Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share; but our toil He doth richly repay; not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross, but is blessed if we trust and obey.” When we trust and obey, we experience that peace and the fullness of life that God wants from us.
I have a Facebook account, but I don’t post that much. Two years ago, I posted a picture of our Church, which was taken on Pentecost Sunday. We had several banners hanging down from the ceiling over the congregation. The photo taken was very awesome and there were several who liked the picture. Last Friday, I noticed that there were several more who liked the picture. It was like it was revived and the likes continued over the weekend. I added a comment because the Spirit was speaking in my inner me very strongly, “The glory of the latter house will be greater than the former.” I added, “This will be the Lord’s doing, and it will be marvelous in our eyes.
So be it Lord, glorify Your glorious house.” I invite and challenge you: be part of it. I prophesy now: the latter will be greater than the former. I am not talking about the building. I am talking about the Lord’s building. Believe; listen to what the Spirit is saying to the Cathedral of the King. Blessed is he who has not yet seen and yet believed because greater things are yet to come. Cathedral of the King, CEC, the Church Catholic worldwide, greater things are yet to come. The kingdom of God continues to increase. It is going to be His doing. Some will receive it, some will rejoice, and some will reject it. I adjure you, I beg of you to be part of it! Something exciting is going to happen; rather, a lot of exciting things are going to happen because the kingdom of God will continue to be on the increase. It is not because of personalities, but because of God. It will be the Lord’s doing, and it will be marvelous in our eyes. The good news is proclaimed to His people first. Let us not be like the Jews who rejected it. Let us receive it by faith. Listen, trust, and obey, and the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and mind in the knowledge and love of God. This is His will and this is the way it is in the kingdom of our God.