By Christopher Wells
Pope Francis prayed especially for nurses during his daily Mass at Casa Santa Marta on Tuesday morning. More than just a profession, he said, it is a vocation. He acknowledged that nursing is a calling that, especially in this time of pandemic, is marked by heroism – even to the point of giving one’s life.
Worldly peace and the peace of Christ
In his homily, Pope Francis reflected on Jesus's words from the Gospel of St John: “Peace I leave you; my peace I give you” (Jn 14:27).
This peace is not “universal peace”, the peace that comes from the absence of war, the Pope said. Rather it is “peace in the heart, peace in our souls, the peace we all have within”.
In the Gospel, Jesus says that the peace He will give is not a worldly peace: “Not as the world gives do I give it to you”. The peace of this world, said Pope Francis, is a peace given by the things that are superficially pleasing to me. That peace is a kind of “personal possession, something I have in isolation from others, something I keep for myself alone”. Without realizing it, this kind of peace can lull us into a sleepy tranquility, where we end up closed in on ourselves. “It’s a bit selfish”, the Pope said.
It’s also a “costly” peace, because those who seek it must always change what gives them that peace. “It is costly because it is temporary and sterile”.
Peace that looks to heaven
The peace that Jesus gives is very different, the Pope said. “It’s a peace that makes you move. It doesn’t isolate you”. Instead, the peace Jesus gives leads you to reach out to others, “to create community and communication”. While the peace the world gives exacts a huge toll, the peace Jesus gives is entirely free, a gift of the Lord.
Pope Francis gave the example from the Gospels of the wealthy man whose barns were filled with grain, who thought he was doing well, and was even looking to build more. “But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’(Lk 12:20)” . This worldly peace “doesn’t open the doors to the future, to heaven”, the Pope said, but is concerned only with oneself.
The peace Jesus gives, on the other hand, is always focused on the Lord. It is a peace not just for today, but for the future: “It is to begin to live in heaven, with the fruitfulness of heaven”. Worldly peace can lull us to sleep like a drug… but we are constantly in need of another “dose”. This worldly peace is limited, because it is always temporary; but the peace that Jesus gives, “is definitive, fruitful, and infectious”.
The Holy Father prayed in conclusion, “May the Lord grant us this peace that gives hope, that creates community, and that looks to the definitive peace of paradise”.