Dear Friends in Christ,
Two things dominate the human condition: war and fear. The opposite of war is peace; the opposite of fear is courage. Peace, as the Bishops at the Second Vatican Council taught us, is not just the absence of war but an inner tranquillity, the fruit of knowing that we are reconciled with God and justified by the blood of Christ. This peace transcends our understanding and can, if we let it, rule our hearts.
Jesus taught that two significant fruits of being his disciples would be peace and courage. We can know these two blessings in our lives in a real and tangible way. This must be true because Jesus promised: ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid’. Well, that’s the teaching and there’s the promise, but what of the reality?
Even a cursory examination of our lives can bring to light not peace but an inner turmoil and not courage but timidity. So what is going on? Why is it like this? Jesus promises peace and tells us simply not to be afraid. Why isn’t this good enough and why doesn’t it work? Well, the truth is it is good enough and it does work – however, we play a part. Our faith isn’t magic: it’s faith. The key is the Holy Spirit: ‘But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you,’
But we can’t be reminded of what Jesus said unless we read the Scriptures. So there is a way in which our peace and courage has a relationship with our reading the Scripture. The Spirit counsels us to immerse ourselves in his life-giving Word. Remember this: ‘Bibles that are falling apart are often read by people whose lives are not.’ Now, that does not mean that those who read the Scriptures do not give in to fear or at times lose their peace, but, because they remind themselves frequently of what Jesus said, the Spirit is able to lead them back to peace. And give them courage.