Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
It seems that life has become more and more chaotic. Division in our society has become more sharp. Politics is a “no go zone.” Even the Church is fragmented. The economy is struggling. Technology is not helping either. Life with social media, text messaging and email has both compressed and accelerated time. Perhaps as a result, people are suffering from stress, depression and anxiety.
How are people coping with this stress? Millions of people take prescription drugs such as anti-depressants. Drug and alcohol abuse are also rising as people try to cope and we see opioid overdoses increasing. If chemical intoxication is not the way, others turn to spiritual practices to cope. Despite having been a predominantly Christian nation, people are turning to Far Eastern religions, spiritism, witchcraft, the occult, yoga and pagan practices to try and find inner peace. But they are not finding it.
Why are people not attracted to Christianity to help deal with stress? Why do people not find peace in following Christ? These are valid questions, but perhaps we need to re-calibrate our understanding of what true peace consists of first.
What is peace?
What kind of peace are we talking about?
The kind of peace that we are talking about is inner peace or, more specifically, spiritual welfare. One quote I came across tried to convey the biblical sense of peace in this way: “The biblical notion of peace has more to do with spiritual welfare than the mere cessation of warfare.” In other words, the kind of inner peace we are talking about is not about life being easy or there not being any conflict around us. Rather, the peace we are talking about is inside of us and suggests spiritual wellness.
The kind of peace we are talking about is a biblical concern. The Greek word for peace that is used in the Bible is eirēnē. It is used 92 times in the New Testament. This word carries the sense of shalom, or “well being.” It includes the idea of peace or harmony. The Strong’s concordance includes in the outline of biblical usage for this word the following definition – “of Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is.”
If this word for peace is used 92 times in the New Testament, then we can reasonably conclude that peace must be tied to the gospel message. We recently heard in the gospel this passage from the Gospel of St. Mark: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel.”1 What is this kingdom of God? What is this gospel that Jesus asks us to believe in? And how does this passage relate to inner peace?
John Paul II helped us unpack these concepts in his 1990 encyclical Redemptoris Missio, on the need for the Church to return to its missionary commitment. He explained that “the kingdom of God is the manifestation and the realization of God’s plan of salvation in all its fullness.”2 What is this plan of salvation? “Salvation consists in believing and accepting the mystery of the Father and of his love, made manifest and freely given in Jesus through the Spirit.”3 “Jesus of Nazareth brings God’s plan to fulfillment.”4
Jesus was preaching that this kingdom of God was at hand. But when He was pressed by the Jewish leaders of the time to explain when it was coming, St. Luke records in his gospel that Jesus revealed a great mystery to us. We read in Luke chapter 17:
Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, [Jesus] answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Lo, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is [within you].”5
The kingdom of God is within you. God’s plan of salvation, the mystery of the Father and of his love, made manifest in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit, is within us. We are getting closer to seeing how this relates to inner peace.
Going back to this passage from the Gospel of St. Mark, Jesus not only preached that the kingdom of God was at hand, He went on to exhort us to “Repent and believe in the gospel.” What is Jesus trying to tell us here when he says, “believe in the gospel”? This word “believe” is the Greek word pisteúō. It is used for “believe” 239 times in the New Testament! This concept permeates the entire New Testament and we will see how it is connected to inner peace.
Strong’s concordance defines pisteúō as - to have faith in, upon, or with respect to, a person or thing; also, to entrust (especially one's spiritual well-being to Christ). It is used especially of the faith by which a man embraces Jesus, i. e. a conviction, full of joyful trust, that Jesus is the Messiah — the divinely appointed author of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God. Faith is the fruit of the first Glorious Mystery of the Rosary (the Resurrection of Jesus).
This kind of belief (pisteúō) can also be called saving faith. We could go down the rabbit hole and explore the concept of saving faith, but for now just recognize that saving faith is not historical faith or intellectual faith or scientific faith. Rather, saving faith comes from a true gospel conversion of heart. This “gospel conversion is the highest level of the Christian’s conversion because it is an experience of God.”6 Saving faith is more than just intellectual knowledge. A key difference is that knowledge alone will never change anyone permanently for the better, but the experience of being loved will.7
We have just taken a deep dive into two concepts revealed to us in this passage from St. Mark. First, the kingdom of God is within us. God’s plan of salvation, the mystery of the Father and of his love, made manifest in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit, is within us. Second, believe in the gospel. That is, embrace with your whole heart that Jesus is the author of your salvation in the kingdom of God. Entrust your spiritual well-being to Him. What is the connection of these two important concepts to inner peace? St. Paul helps us make the connection.
St. Paul tells us his letter to the Romans that it is in believing that we are filled with peace. He writes:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.8
Paul uses the same Greek word here for “believing” that we have been talking about – pisteúō. St. Paul also tells us that peace is a fruit of the Holy Spirit.9 Thus, it is through saving faith, a deep gospel conversion through the experience of God’s love for us, entrusting our spiritual well-being to Christ, that God fills us with peace through the Holy Spirit.
“Repent and believe in the gospel.” In a nutshell, this is the key to inner peace.
We started by asking the question, what is peace. What is peace?
Peace is, before God formed you in the womb, He knew you.10
Peace is, you are God’s child.11
Peace is, even the hairs on your head are numbered.12
Peace is, you are more valuable than many sparrows.13
Peace is, your Heavenly Father knows everything that you need.14
Peace is, the Holy Spirit helps you in your weakness.15
Peace is, while you were yet a sinner Christ died for you.16
Peace is, the kingdom of God is within you.17
Peace is, you are a temple of the Holy Spirit.18
Peace is, the Father and the Son have come to dwell within you.19
Peace is, there are many mansions in heaven and Jesus has gone to prepare a place for you.20
Peace is, we know that in everything God works for good with those who love him. 21
Peace is, in the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, Jesus has overcome the world.22
Peace is, nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.23
What is peace? Peace is a gift to you from Jesus himself. Listen to Jesus speak to you now:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. . . . Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”
“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.”24
“I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace.”25
“May the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which you were called in one body.”26 Peace be with you.
Eric A. Welter is an employment lawyer and trial attorney with a long-time devotion to intercessory prayer. He is a Catholic Christian who has been involved with intercessory and healing prayer ministry for over twenty years. The Abound in Hope Ministry website is https://www.aboundinhope.org/ministry.
Rev. Bro. Augustine Momoh, OP, Supernatural Ministry.
David Torkington, The Primacy of Loving.