The prince of peace

May 22, 2022

The first apostles had a fundamental decision to make about the future of the church. They could choose to create rigorous requirements for admission, restricting membership to only those from the same tradition as the apostles themselves. Or they could opt for very basic provisions, only those necessary to express this novel faith. Jesus never specified what direction to take. But he welcomed people of all backgrounds and never probed his disciples’ pasts to make sure they were faithfully practicing the Jewish faith. Moreover, before he ascended to heaven he told them to make disciples of all nations. So Peter and the apostles concluded that it was not necessary for Gentiles to follow Mosaic laws and practices in order to be baptized. The care the apostles took in delivering their response reflected Jesus’ words to his apostles in today’s Gospel. Jesus comforted them, telling them “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27). In the same spirit, the apostles and elders first apologized to the Gentiles for those who “disturbed your peace of mind,” then declared their intention “not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities” (Acts 15:24, 28). The Holy Spirit, promised by Jesus in the Gospel and relied upon by the apostles in the first reading, extended the peace Jesus gives to all those whose hearts are troubled. Significantly, the words Jerusalem and shalom come from the same root. In John’s vision of the heavenly Jerusalem, the Prince of Peace, who offered peace at his birth, in his ministry, at the Last Supper, and after his resurrection, dwells with us, as he had promised to those who love him and keep his word. Therefore, his promise of peace is with us, too. Now it is up to us to bring that peace and increase that peace and extend that peace in our world today, so that every city may be a city of peace, made holy by the presence of the Lamb. Amen. (Casey, Most Reverend Robert G. Pastoral Patterns. World Library Publication, 2022)

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