A common greeting among Jews around the world today is “Shalom aleikhem” which in Hebrew means “peace be upon you.” The word Shalom is often translated into English as ‘peace’ but in reality, the word goes much deeper in meaning and refers to the way the world should be when God brings lasting peace, justice, and completeness to our lives and the world. In our Gospel reading today, this is the kind of peace Jesus is referring to when he says “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you.” We all deep down long for the shalom that Jesus speaks of. The first humans had shalom in Garden of Eden whenever everything was created as ‘good,’ and humans at the end of history will have shalom when Jesus returns and makes all things news. This is only the kind of peace God can give. However, it doesn’t necessarily make life in the present always peaceful. For the first disciples, it actually cost them their reputations, their well-being, and eventually, their lives.
In the first reading before the Gospel, the disciples state, “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.” In other words, suffering for Christ in this life is necessary to have shalom in the next. This reminds me of quote from Dumbledore, a wise wizard in the fictional book series, ‘Harry Potter’ when he says,
“Dark times lie ahead of us and there will be a time when we must choose
between what is easy and what is right.”
St. Paul reveals how he is willing to choose what is difficult for Christ when he is nearly stoned death for his preaching. When Paul is lying on the ground nearly dead, “the disciples gathered around him,” and he miraculously stands up as if resurrected. Thankfully, God does not leave his followers to only suffer but will also work miracles on their behalf in order to bring about His plan in life’s difficult situations.
Perhaps today you are in a difficult situation or facing the possibility of suffering for doing what is right or even what is best. Remember, if we want God’s best for our lives and eventually shalom for the whole world, it may require difficult decisions, much prayer, and a willingness to suffer for Christ. But recall the words of Paul, when he says “This momentary suffering is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure” (2 Corinthians 4:17). Suffering is only of a time. Shalom is forever.