Homily given by Father Denis Maher on Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives it, do I give it to you. Peace is something we all desire in our lives. But as you and I are well aware, it can be very, very allusive. So what is Jesus talking about when He says, “My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives, do I give it. My peace.” Why did He put in the word “my” there? It is an adjective. It qualifies the kind of peace the Lord wants to give to you and I. And I think very often, if you were asked, “Would you describe or put into your own words what you mean by peace” and if you pray for peace, do you know what you are really praying for? Are you praying for an absence of conflict in your life? That everything will go just nice and smoothly for you. That nobody will cause you any upset or anger you in anyway or any annoyance and you can live in peace and harmony with everyone. Is that what Jesus is talking about? I don’t think it is.
Father Denis Maher from Ireland gives a simple but profound homily during English Mass.
I know from my own experience, that I become paralyzed, neutralized, whatever word you might like to use, if I don’t have peace. I would describe myself, when I don’t have peace, as a useless instrument in the hands of God. As a priest, I cease to function almost if I haven’t got peace within my soul, within my heart. It is a vital component of my life. I would describe myself like an axe that has become blunt, totally blunted. Or a knife, over in Ireland when someone hands you a useless knife, we say, “It wouldn’t cut butter.” In other words, it is useless. And I certainly, when I don’t have peace in my life, I am like that knife – I couldn’t even cut butter.
What do I do – that is the important thing. It is not a question of what do I do, what have I got to do. Each and every morning of my life, because it is so important, I ask God, I ask Jesus, to give me the gift of peace. To give me a peace that He alone can give. To give me a peace that surpasses all understanding. To give me so at peace, so calm, no matter what is happening around me. So I don’t see peace as an absence of conflict in my life. There could be all kind of things going on around me, but I must keep that peace in my soul if I am going to function well. I ask the Lord to give me a peace that no one has the power to take from me unless I allow them too. It is coupled with joy. If you have peace, you have joy; you have calm. Calm is trust in action. I am very aware of that in my own life, that often my lack of peace is because I don’t trust God sufficiently. I am depending more on myself – myself. And that is at the bottom of the problem – myself – every single time. It is not you that is causing me to have a lack of peace in my life, it is always myself. Always, always. And as soon as I begin blaming anybody else, then I am going down a cul-de-sac, or to use an American expression, down a dead end. There is no way out. So I am not blaming you or you or you because I don’t have peace in my life. And so often that happens in a family situation or where you work. “If I didn’t have to work beside that guy, oh, wouldn’t it be Heaven on earth.” No, wrong. Because there would be another guy to replace him. That’s a fact. Wherever you go, that guy will be there. I guarantee you. “If I wasn’t married to her, I wonder how life would be?” Again, why did you get married to her? Well, it makes sense.
You only have yourself to blame. It always, it always comes back to me. And so, I take myself immediately where I live, and I am very fortunate to have this, I have a prayer room in my house and I go there immediately before I do anything. I just tell Jesus, I don’t have peace at the moment. And I dig and dig and dig, asking myself why don’t I have that peace. And it is inevitably because I don’t trust you Lord sufficiently. And so then I say three times, not with my lips but from the heart, Jesus, I trust in you. And really mean it. It is that powerful prayer, Jesus, I trust in you. And really, listen, listen to yourself as you say it. Jesus, I trust in you. And to join them all together – peace, joy, calm, whatever word you want to use. I think they are all based on the beautiful gift of gratitude because of a very simple reason – a grateful heart can never be unhappy. A grateful heart can never be unhappy. And I leave you with that in your thoughts. A grateful heart can never be unhappy or lack peace or joy or trust. They are all the children of gratitude.