Sunday, May 05, 2013

Sunday word, 05 May 2013

Surrender to a Presence
6Easter (05 May 2013)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Did you hear the distinction Jesus made in his promise? Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. Jesus promised his peace. His promise is worth a savoring look. We can easily overlook Jesus promised his peace to his disciples and to us. Not as the world gives...peace he said. I want to  consider with you how Jesus’ peace is different.

Peace as we may think it—worldly peace—is not what Jesus gives. Peace we may first think is absence of anxiety, of violence, of trouble. When we are distressed we move, physically or mentally, to places of calm, quiet or rest. That sort of peace is good, yet Jesus offers us his, better peace. Looking to Jesus show how.

At the Last Supper Jesus was troubled that one of his disciples would betray him.1 Jesus did not escape his betrayal or death; Jesus surrendered to his Father: I am coming to you2...Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began. Jesus surren-dered not to an absence of trouble and violence  and its anxiety; he surrendered to the presence of his Father, source of life and tranquility.

Jesus’ peace could be likened to a hurricane’s eye. The violent winds of a hurricane rotate round its center called the eye. Winds at the eye are calm and the sky is visible.3 The presence of Jesus’ Father, his protecting power, enabled Jesus to be calm and strong not overwhelmed by the storm of his betrayal, cross and death.

One more thing about a hurricane’s eye is more valuable: the “formation [of an eye] is still not fully understood.”3 The value of that fact keeps scientists humble. That scientific fact reminds us to hear Jesus’ distinction, Not as the world gives do I give [my peace] to you. From our human point of view we cannot fully understand or make easy sense of our Jesus’ gift of his peace. Rather than a recipe—something we can control—Jesus invites us into a closer relationship with him as he had a close, constant relationship with his Father.

When things beyond our control challenge or distress us, being with another person we trust often is often our only strength and comfort. The strength and comfort we receive does not make our challenges disappear, but we do stand a bit taller. We cast our burden on our friends, and we keep ourselves close. We also value more deeply our relationship with our trusted friends.

In that way St. Peter suggested that we keep close to Jesus when we are challenged and burdened, saying, Cast your anxieties on Jesus.4 When we cast our anxieties we let go of them. Anxieties seduce us to try to control them, and the more we they limit our vision or even blind us. When we let go of them, we begin to see freshly and notice what is of greater value.

When we let go our anxieties with someone we trust, we surrender to them. Peter suggested we include Jesus among our trusted friends and surrender to him, to his presence with us, to his Spirit. Jesus’ peace is Jesus’ Spirit. To surrender to Jesus and his Spirit is not of the world because the world often suggests we build walls instead. Insulating ourselves limits us from learning, loving and being loved.

Jesus did not insulate himself. He was vulnerable to being sought, to being followed, to being misunderstood, to being opposed. His being vulnerable was no weakness; it was his gift. If he had insulated himself he would have been forgotten like so many others. Instead, Jesus is remembered and more: he lives with absolutely new and indestructible life. Jesus invites us to allow him to be the source of his risen life at every turn of our lives.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Pause and rest in our triune God.
  • Ask Mary and the saints to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with him: praise Jesus for abiding with you even when you are unaware he walks with you; thank him for giving you his peace.
  • Ask Jesus for grace to surrender to his peace and live from it daily. 
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. His words guide us to live his peace with others and for our world.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise
  1. John 13.21.
  2. John 17.11, 13.
  3. National Weather Service, “Tropical Cyclone Structure.”
  4. 1 Peter 5.7.
Wiki-images of the Christ taking leave of his disciples {PD-old-100} and of star forming galaxies public domain.

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