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Selection of the sermons of Father Ezekiel Oko

Sermon for 6th Sunday of Easter time in the reading year: C

I leave you peace

"Peace I leave you, my peace I give you." That's what Jesus tells us in today's Gospel. Despite this promise of Jesus, our world does not always look peaceful. Given the war-torn condition of our world, one might think that the message of today's gospel is unreal. What's the problem? Aren't we humans capable of peace?

The problem, I think, is that peace cannot be won without justice. Because peace and justice belong together. We cannot live in true peace with one another without also dealing justly with one another. And that is true. Another thing is that we don't always agree on what justice means. It is therefore often not easy to reconcile both - peace and justice.

For example, the Islamist terrorist who bombed a church, killing many people, speaks of a fight for justice. He says the unbelievers should repent or be killed. How can one live in peace with people of such views? In northern Nigeria, Christians live in constant danger from terrorist attacks. A student there was murdered two weeks ago by Islamist extremists who claimed that she had agitated against Mohammed. They meant fighting for justice.

If you follow Putin and the background of his war in Ukraine, you can see that with this terrible war and with the terrible number of victims and destruction he believes that he is fighting for justice. He justifies this cruel war with an alleged "denazification" of Ukraine and sees it as a just act. But when we think about the terrible effects of this war - the difficulties and challenges - affecting millions of people around the world, we wonder how one person can think and act so crazy.

These are just examples of how crazy we humans can be in our ideas about justice and our fight for it. Perhaps they are examples of our madness on a grand scale. On a small scale, in everyday life, we experience such crazy notions about justice and fighting for it. We do not always succeed in getting a clear view of the impact our struggle for justice can have and how it can deprive other people of their rights and thus prevent justice and peace.

Peace cannot be won without looking after and respecting the interests and rights of other people. Here we see that peace is ultimately based on charity. Even justice cannot be truly understood and justly created without charity. That is, the question of peace leads us back to Jesus' commandment: "Love one another!" If I only consider my rights, but overlook those of others, then I cannot make peace with them. If I fight only for my own good and my own interests, but ignore the good of others, then I am not a peacemaker.

Dear sisters and brothers, let us reflect again on the words of Jesus: "Peace I leave you, my peace I give you". How can we actively own and share this peace? It takes respect and love for each other. It takes respectful and loving interactions with each other, even with those we call our "enemies". Because where charity is practiced, there is peace!

Gospel of 6th Sunday of Easter time in the reading year C:

The First Farewell Discourse, Departure and New Coming of Jesus

John 14,23-29

23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. 25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe.