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In today’s gospel we read: “I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33) The word “this” refers to all that Jesus has told his disciples in this and the previous 3 chapters of the Farewell Discourse. The wide range of topics, advice, admonitions, and commandments seem to center around remaining in relationship with God, doing what God commands, and living a life that receives and gives love abundantly. In several earlier passages Jesus promises that willingly adopting the life as a disciple is one that surely and relentlessly leads to joy, and not just any joy that the world would give, but a joy that is complete. Our verses today focus on peace – but not as the world gives, but as given in the Holy Spirit. What kind of peace is that?

The peace that comes when two warring factions decide to no longer take up arms? “Peace is not merely the absence of war, and it is not limited to maintaining a balance of powers between adversaries. Peace cannot be attained on earth without safeguarding the goods of persons, free communication among men, respect for the dignity of persons and peoples, and the assiduous practice of fraternity” (CCC 2304).

The core idea is that life is complex, full of moving parts and relationships and situations, and when any of these is out of alignment or missing, your peace breaks down. Life is no longer whole. It needs to be restored.

In fact, that’s the basic meaning of shalom/peace when you use it as a verb. To bring peace literally means to make complete or restore. When King Solomon completed the Jerusalem Temple, it was said that he brought shalom/peace to the temple. It was a complex work in progress, now made whole, made complete. Or if you accidentally damage your neighbor’s property, you “shalom” them, give them peace by giving them a complete repayment for their loss. You take what’s missing, and you restore it to wholeness.

The same goes for human relationships. In the book of Proverbs, to reconcile and heal a broken relationship is to bring peace. And when rival kingdoms make shalom in the Bible, it doesn’t just mean they stop fighting. It also means they start working together for each other’s benefit.

Peace is not merely the absence of conflict or turmoil, but it is a state of harmony, well-being, and wholeness that is rooted in a relationship with God. It encompasses spiritual, emotional, and relational dimensions. Through Jesus Christ, believers can experience peace with God and peace within themselves, even in the midst of trials and tribulations.

“I have told you this so that you might have peace in me” – that you might be restored, made whole, made complete. That is the peace that awaits those who serve the Lord, so much more than just the absence of conflict.

Image credit: Duccio di Buoninsegna – Appearance on the Mountain in Galilee | ca. 1310 | Museo dell’ Opera del Duomo, Siena | Public Domain