Trinity 5, God as Peace

The final Benediction of our Eucharist says, “The peace of God, which passeth all understanding.” The Hebrew word Shalom is far broader in application than the English word Peace. Besides referring to the state of being free from war or disturbance, from II Chronicles 15:5, “And in those early times when we did not worship our God, there was no peace to him that went out, nor to him that came in, because of great misfortune that came upon all the inhabitants of the land.”

Shalom can also convey the idea of health, safety, soundness, welfare, friendship, and entirety or completeness. There is a farewell that is often used, “Go in peace.” This somewhat corresponds to the old expression “May it go well with you.” Since “peace” is not always the exact equivalent in translation, the context needs also need to be considered. For example, to be “sent away in peace” could be being sent away amicably, with no fear of interference. To “return in peace” meant returning unharmed from battle and/or victoriously. Asking concerning the peace of someone meant inquiring as to how they are getting along. For a person to die in peace could mean dying a tranquil death after having enjoyed a full life or the fulfillment of a desire.

God is peace, and the source of peace, peace being a fruit of His spirit. For this reason, true peace can only be had by those who are at peace with God. The peace of God, which passeth all understanding—what does this peace look like? How do we find peace if it passes all understanding? The peace of God is calmness, tranquility, compassion. How do we find these aspects of peace, of God? There are many tools to utilize to do this—meditation, prayer, Tai-Chi, our Eucharist—all are designed to aid in attaining these aspects.

“In Buddhism, knowledge is regarded as an obstacle to understanding, like a block of ice that obstructs water from flowing. Guarding knowledge is not a good way to understand. Understanding means to throw away your knowledge. You have to be able to transcend your knowledge the way people climb a ladder. The technique is to release. The Buddhist way of understanding is always letting go of our views and knowledge in order to transcend. That is why I use the image of water to talk about understanding. Knowledge is solid; it blocks the way of understanding. Water can flow, can penetrate.” says Thich Nhat Hant in Being Peace. Peace is an inner quality; we cannot find peace out in the world if we cannot find peace within ourselves. The closing Benediction tells us, “There is a peace that passeth understanding; it abides in the hearts of those who live in the eternal.” In today’s Gospel we are told that “because I live, ye shall live also.” “And my father will come and make a place of abode.” “Peace I will leave with you.” “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Let us take that peace and be comforted in all things that happen so that it may strengthen our perception of life.

And now to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, three Persons in one God, be ascribed all honour, might, majesty, power and dominion, now and for evermore. Amen.

Lee Dunn

July 11, 2004

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