God’s Greatest Gift – His Peace

Photo: Patricia Enk

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (John 14:27)

In His discourse at the Last Supper Jesus gives to his disciples, and to us, the gift of His peace. He leaves it “with” us. Most people would think of peace as a state of being undisturbed, tranquil or quiet. But Jesus tells us at the same time not to “let our hearts be troubled or fearful.” We must must somehow preserve this peace while living, as did the first disciples, in a disturbing, troubling, and frightening anti-Christian world. It is a paradox. What is this “gift” of His peace — a peace that can remain with us while the world around has gone mad? 

The world offers its own sort of “peace” but it is at the price of rejecting Jesus Christ and His Cross. It is the false peace of tolerance and acquiescence — getting along, or going along with the prevailing culture — in the hope that by submission to its unceasing demands we will somehow be left alone to live our lives, losing none of our comforts or security. Anyone accepting this false type of peace however will ultimately lose everything, including eternal salvation. There is no real peace apart from Jesus Christ.

Holy Face of Jesus of Manoppello (photo: Paul Badde/EWTN)

Pope Benedict XVI wrote that the revelation of the Face of God took on a new and beautiful manifestation when God became man in the person of Jesus Christ. As fully God and fully man, Jesus Christ gave us a human face that revealed the Face of God. “While we too seek other signs, other wonders, we do not realize that He is the real sign, God made flesh; He is the greatest miracle of the universe: all the love of God hidden in a human heart, in a human face!” Something new happens at the Incarnation, because now God’s Face can be seen: The Son of God was made man and He is given a Name, Jesus.

God, our loving Father, offers us a gift of true peace that is so much greater than anything the world has to offer, if only we turn back to His Face. God has a Face and a Name,  “the concrete sign of His existence” which He has shown us through His Incarnate Son, Jesus Christ. “To express ourselves in accordance with the paradox of the Incarnation we can certainly say that God gave Himself a human face, the Face of Jesus, and consequently, from now on, if we truly want to know the Face of God, all we have to do is to contemplate the Face of Jesus! In His Face we truly see who God is and what He looks like!” – Pope Benedict XVI 

It was on the World Day of Peace 2013 that Pope Benedict spoke about the blessing of the priests of the people of Israel. The blessing repeats the three-times Holy Name of God, a Name not to be spoken, and each time linked to two words indicating an action in favor of man:

“May the Lord bless and keep you, may He make His Face shine upon you and be gracious to you: May the Lord turn His Face toward you and give you His PEACE.” (Num. 6: 22-27)

Peace is the summit of these six actions of God in our favor, His most sublime gift, in which He turns toward us the splendor of His Face.” -Pope Benedict XVI

Moreover, Pope Benedict wrote, “To rejoice in the splendor of His Face means penetrating the mystery of His Name made known to us in Jesus, understanding something of His interior life and of His will, so that we can live according to His plan for humanity. Jesus lets us know the hidden Face of the Father through His human Face; by the gift of the Holy Spirit poured into our hearts.” This, the pope says, is the foundation of our peace, which nothing can take from us.

Limpias Crucifix

Benedict XVI has characterized devotion to the Holy Face as having three separate components: 1. Discipleship – an encounter with Jesus, to see Jesus in the Face of those in need. 2. The Passion of Jesus, and suffering expressed by images of the wounded Face of Jesus. 3. The Eucharist, “the great school in which we learn to see the Face of God,”  which is woven between the other two. The eschatological element then builds on awakening to Christ by contemplating His Face hidden in the Eucharist. “In the Eucharist, the Face of Christ is turned toward us.” – Pope St. John Paul II

“Our whole life should be directed toward encountering Him,” writes Benedict, “toward loving Him; and in it, a central place must be given to love of one’s neighbor, that love that in the light of the Crucified One, enables us to recognize the Face of Jesus in the poor, the weak, the suffering.” In short, to enter into a relationship with Jesus and to follow Him. The pope goes on to explain the fruits of this contemplation: “From contemplation of the Face of God are born, joy, security, PEACE.” Peace, not as the world gives, but the peace which can only come from Jesus Christ. “And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:7)

Listen to my voice, Lord, when I call
. . . Your Face, Lord, do I seek!
Hide not Your Face from me!
-Psalm 27

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“Abide in peace, banish care, take no account of all that happens. And you will serve God according to His good pleasure.” — St. John of the Cross 

“…and if my people, upon whom my name has been pronounced, humble themselves and pray, and seek My Face and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from Heaven and pardon their sins and revive their land.” (2 Chr. 7:4)

Prayer to the Holy Face for the liberation from the coronavirus
 
Lord Jesus, Savior of the world, hope that will never disappoint us, have mercy on us and deliver us from all evil! Please overcome the scourge of this virus which is spreading, heal the sick, preserve the healthy, support those who work for the health of all. Show us your face of mercy and save us in your great love. We ask you through the intercession of Mary, Your Mother and ours, who faithfully accompanies us. You who live and reign forever and ever. Amen.
+ Bruno Forte
Archbishop of Chieti – Vasto (Italy)
 
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