Chaos in war-torn countries. A worldwide pandemic. Racial tension. Refugees huddled in overcrowded camps. Mass shootings. Civil unrest. Tropical storms. Wildfires. Floods. Droughts.
Add to that list the crises and conflicts afflicting the Church itself.
It seems our world in recent years has been experiencing a protracted nervous breakdown. Which is why today’s readings are particularly timely. The passage from Acts recalls the harsh times the early Christians faced. Paul is stoned by a hostile crowd, dragged off, and nearly left for dead. Like the refugees of today, the disciples were incessantly on the move, constantly under threat. Still, the Church endured. Still, the disciples exhorted each other to “persevere in the faith.”
What gave them that courage? The words Jesus had spoken to them at the Last Supper hold the key. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you.” The disciples seemed to understand that the ways of the world are often bracing and cruel. It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships. And yet, there is a space for calm and comfort within each hardship. It is the peace Christ promised, a peace beyond the suffering.
As we watch the sad, often tragic news of the world unfold—as we confront our own personal struggles—can we remember that peace is what we were made for, peace is our inheritance, an inner gift of Christ? Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.