Watch: Peace | A Fruit of the Holy Spirit | Pentecost Novena w/ Bishop Boyea

In his letter to the Church in Galatia, Saint Paul identifies nine fruits of the Holy Spirit: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith in action, gentleness, and inner strength (Galatians 5:22-23). In the run-up to the great Solemnity of Pentecost, May 23, Bishop Boyea invites each of us to join him in meditating upon those nine fruits so that they more and more animate our daily lives. Today: Peace. Bishop Boyea says:

"It is about 625 years before Jesus was born. An enemy is coming from the north to attack Jerusalem and its kingdom. The king and his prophets are all agreed that there is no danger and all will be well (Jeremiah 4:10). But one prophet, Jeremiah, a rather young man, dares to challenge their view. He cries out that the prophets are false as they say, “Peace, peace, when there is no peace” (6:14). Jeremiah would prove to be the prophet of a true peace."

"Now, peace, as listed by St. Paul, is not really about being at war or not. Rather it is about being in the right relationship with God and with others. It is Shalom, a much bigger term than our puny word, “peace,” can capture. And the Holy Spirit wants us to have this “well-being,” this shalom, with God and others as peace is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. So then how will the Holy Spirit help us with this gift of peace? I believe there are three ways. First, Jeremiah took on the king and the other prophets because they thought sturdy walls gave them peace. Jeremiah wants them to see that only God protects and God will simply let nature take its course unless they repent of their evil ways. Thus, Jeremiah concludes: “They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to repent” (5:4; chapter 28). The clear message is that you can’t have peace by ignoring sin. The Spirit pours peace into our hearts to get us to be right with God, to leave behind our waywardness and sins, and to seek God’s will in all things. Then all will be truly well."

"Secondly, Jeremiah now has to deal with God who has commanded him to preach. But Jeremiah finds no open ears. In fact, the city leaders want to kill him. God basically replies, “Buck up, young man, worse is yet to come” (12:5). God’s peace does not coddle Jeremiah. He has important work to do and he must be about it. God’s will is not easy (16:1-13). Jeremiah here and at many points in his ministry comes close to despair at having to do God’s will. In fact, he was once beaten and put in the stocks for a day due to his disturbing the public peace with his preaching. Still, he always found true peace by trusting in his relationship with God (20:7-18): “The Lord is with me as a dread warrior; therefore my persecutors will stumble, they will not overcome me” (20:11)."

"Thirdly, Babylon eventually captured the city of Jerusalem in 597 BC and then deported many people leaving behind a puppet king named Zedekiah. Still the people did not reform! Now in the next ten years Jeremiah tried to get King Zedekiah to accept his fate and submit to Babylon (34:1-5). But the king’s advisors urged the king to resist and rebel and rely upon God’s past promises that he would always keep a son of David on the throne and he would always protect his temple. They viewed Jeremiah as a traitor. Jeremiah instead urged the king to forget about rebellion and give his entire focus to establishing real justice in his small kingdom (22:3). Establish the right relationships among all the people of the realm, especially for the poor and meek, and obey God’s will, and peace will come (22:4-5). Jeremiah even tells the king: “the days are coming…when I will raise up for David a righteous branch, and he shall…execute justice and righteousness in the land” (23:5). Of course, we believe this finally happened with the coming of Jesus."

"Well, the king did not listen, and Jerusalem was destroyed in 587 BC. God’s gift of peace was offered but rejected. Jeremiah can only look to the future now. God really does desire his peace to reign as he tells Jeremiah: “I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for shalom (well-being) and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (29:11)." My sisters and brothers, recall that the risen Jesus on Easter Sunday appeared to the apostles and said, “Peace be with you.” This is not just a kind greeting. The Holy Spirit wants us to be peace-filled by rejecting sin and being right with God, by embracing God’s will even when it seems difficult, and by being just and loving to all around us, from the least to the greatest."