January 13, 2012 by eneubauer
Jesus, speaking to the disciples, says this in John 16:33 (RSV), “I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
Prior to this statement Jesus states in John 16:25 that he will no longer speak in “figures” or in figures of speech – but unambiguously to his disciples. Therefore, what was said after John 16:25 should make us lean in and pay particular attention. Hence, 16:25 gives us the foundation for the unambiguous statement within John 16:33. It is in this verse that three things stand out – with particular interest.
- Tribulation / Trouble
- I have overcome the world
Let me begin by saying that I am a news and travel junkie. I have been blessed to have traveled to and served in over 25 countries. My work has been comprised of serving the poor (in a variety of ways) and evangelization (discipleship). One take away from this 15 year journey on the pilgrim’s path is that I have received much more than I have ever given. In addition, I have become uncomfortably acquainted with human suffering. After travel my second love is collecting information. This just means that I am a news / current events / culture watch junkie. I particularly love the crossroads between our Catholic faith and what’s happening in society / culture. Travel, my quest for collecting information, and my love for people have allowed me to learn about and experience real, human suffering. It is in this context that I have developed a longing for peace. Peace for those who suffer (often needlessly) in our world.
My life experiences and the current state of our world highlight the reality and truth of what Jesus said to His disciples – we (you) will experience tribulation (suffering) in this world. It seems to me as if tribulation is attacking our world. You can see it happening everywhere!
Currently, issues that concern me greatly are:
- The speculative rise in staple food prices along with an unwillingness to solve distribution problems put food (currently produced) out of reach for the poor.
- The steady erosion of religious freedom and the growing intolerance of religious people within secular societies.
- Slavery continues and often claims the youngest and most vulnerable among us. The power of money and the greed that follows chokes off the development real solutions.
- Ongoing wars that rage around, the utilization of children to fight and indiscriminate killings that accompany so much of today’s current fighting. Currently there seems to be no sign lasting peace.
It is obvious that our world, fallen that it is, is racked with violence, a growing disrespect for life (conception to natural death), and a concerted effort to exploit those who cannot defend themselves. Therefore the question that arises is one of hope – do we have it or can we hope for a better life, a more peaceful future and a safe space to raise our children?
Well, let’s see what Jesus says. He warns us of the dire realities of his circumstances (i.e. upcoming trial, torture, and death) in addition to warning us that our world will continue to convulse with trouble. However, the Good News is, Jesus has overcome the world. Hence, it is in Christ that we overcome the world and develop an inner / spiritual peace that transcends understanding. Now, the question is, “how do we obtain this peace?” A peace that will allow us (all) to make the best decisions possible always saying, “not my will but Your will be done!” Here are some practical steps towards the development of personal / communal peace:
- Develop a devotional rhythm
- Encourage silence, reflective periods, and journaling
- Challenge yourself to intellectual stimulation: get the KNOW the issues
- Serve in a neighborhood, city, or nation that is dealing with systemic poverty: LEARN
- Advocate for the issues at the heart of Jesus’ mission: Matthew 25:31-46, Proverbs 31:8-9
May God grant us His peace…