Shalom Alechem- Peace to you! 7th Sunday of Easter 2018 B

Published on Friday, 11 May 2018 19:40
Written by Chikezie Onuoha MSP

Brothers and sisters, Shalom Alechem-Peace to you! We are closer to Pentecost. Last Thursday we celebrated Christ's ascension into heaven. Before Christ left the disciples, he promised to send to them the Holy Spirit. It is the spirit of peace. "Peace, I leave you, my peace I give to you, not as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not let them be afraid." (John 14:27). Shalom! The greeting of welcome and farewell among God's people in Israel and around the world are not wealth, success, or even prosperity. It's simply peace! We are sent to the world to offer it with the peace of Christ.

It is quite difficult to hear God or rest in his presence when we are concerned with worry and fear. Jesus refers to this when he said, "Can any of you worry about adding another hour in his life?" (Matthew 6:27). How do we receive the perfect peace of God amid the disappointments and failures we experience in the world? We have our answer from the word of God: "They will keep perfect peace [shalom shalom] those whose thoughts are fixed because they trust you" (Isaiah 26: 3).

The disciples do not belong to the world. Therefore, they cannot be busy with the things of the world. They cannot find complete peace in the world. They do not belong to the world, as I do not belong to the world, "says Jesus. Because they do not belong to the world, they must always keep their eyes fixed on the things of heaven.

To whom much is given, much is equally expected. All Christians have received much from the Lord, so we are expected to bear rich fruits in our lives. Brit Chadashah (New Testament) reveals that we who have high calling as Christians, as priests, will be judged by a stricter rule than others. "Not many of you should be teachers, my children, because you know that we as teachers will be judged more strictly." (James 3: 1).

We know that teachers are leaders, and with that mission comes greater responsibility. Teachers can have a greater influence on many people - either good or bad - than for the general population, because they teach others not only by their words but by example. The students often look up to their teachers; therefore, those who teach God's Word are to live an exemplary life-what a challenge. The truth is that we, as believers in Jesus, are his ambassadors, and priests - we represent him. Therefore, each of us is held to a high standard of morality in the world.

Unfortunately, Christians turn to the "world" to find peace. And without peace, even our money, success and health cannot be fully enjoyed. Why not? Because we seek the kind of peace that the world offers instead of the kind God offers us in his kingdom. "For God's kingdom, it's not about eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost" (Romans 14:17). This may be why our efforts so often lead us to fear and anxiety instead of joy and peace that God desires for us.

And yet, we all know that peace is not so easy to receive. Even those who believe Jesus - Sar Shalom (Prince of Peace) themselves suffer from lack of peace and end up in stress, anxiety and controversy. Today, a lot of believers believe that money is the most important thing in life. We have not understood what is the content of the peace promised by Christ. Recently, a man told me how a relative called him and asked him to help the daughter come to Europe. When he tried to explain that the best for the daughter cannot be to come to Europe because the system will cause her to lose the most important things in her life, God, peace, virtues, even the risk that she might not have a sustainable family. Then this replied that it does not matter even if the daughter becomes a prostitute to earn money to help the whole family. It's tragic to hear this. Money triumphs everything today. For the sake of money, we yoke with unbelievers and learn from their deeds. We worship their idols that becomes our pitfall. We are ready to sacrifice our daughters and sons to the master of this world. Like at Horeb, where the Israelites exchanged their honour for the image of an ox that eats grass, we exchange our honour for money. Thus, we act faithlessly in our life. Why? Perhaps we do not yet have a good understanding of what this peace is like YHVH, our Father, God of Peace, wants his children to experience even in our fallen world, nor do we know how to receive it.

Christians are called to sanctify the holy name of God: "Do not deny my holy name, for I must be recognized as holy by the Israelites. I am the LORD who made you holy" (Deuteronomy 22:32). In Judaism, this is the most important mitzvah (commandment) of the 613 mitzvot throughout the Torah. Our behavior must exemplify our relationship with God. That way we can shine in the darkness. "Neither do people light a lamp, and put it under a bowl, instead they put it in its place, and it gives light to all in the house" (Matthew 5:15). If we have received Christ, we shall also follow him in our way of living. Whoever has received the Holy Spirit will testify of Jesus' resurrection. It is the Lord who chooses us and commands us to go out into the world and proclaim the gospel. It is not about our love for God but God's love for us. He has not chosen us for any merits of ours. The signs that God is always in us is that we love each other (1 John 4). Jesus has asked the Father to keep us from the wicked one (John 17:17). Why should you be afraid? Fear is a sign of lack of faith and trust in El Shaddai who saves us for his name's sake. When a person thinks of God's great goodness, he or she cannot be afraid. Unfortunately, as soon as challenge confronts, we forget God's mighty deeds.

At the last Supper, Jesus specifically prayed for his disciples that they should keep their faith and become one in him (John 17: 20-26). He would leave them soon, but they will continue to live in the world who hates them. Therefore, he asks that the Father protects them from the enemies and keeps them united so that they become a credible witness to the world. This prayer includes those who through the disciples will believe in Jesus. Unity among his disciples is the proof that they are His disciples. Therefore, this is highly appreciated among the disciples, and he commands them to live in concrete unity. Unfortunately, we cannot say that Christ's prayer has been completely fulfilled when we look at the relationship between Christians today. Think about how different Christian groups have hated and fought against each other through history. Can we forget the hate that sometimes exists between different Christian groups today?

Unity within the Catholic Church is facing serious challenges. The unity within the Catholic Church is challenged by developments in society. The Catholic Church in different countries is confronted with various problems, both economic, political, moral, and risk introducing teachings and actions that will undermine the unity of the Catholic Church, unless Christ is always placed at the center.

In Jesus, the Old Testament prophecies have been fulfilled and show how he leads us into the future. Jesus fulfilled Pasch's feast (Easter's offering of a lamb on Nisan 14) with his final victim/reconciliation death on Nisan 14 as the lamb of God (Isaiah 53: John 1:36; Hebrews 9: 11-14, 22-24). In this sacrifice of himself, Jesus also fulfilled Yom Kippur (Atonement Day). Jesus then became our Bikkurim (First fruits) of the grain harvest held at Nisan 16 when he arose at Nisan 16 as the first of all who will rise from the dead on the last day (Psalm 16: 8-11; Acts 2: 24-28; 1 ​​Corinthians 15: 20-23).

 Shavuot (Pentecost) at Sivan 6 is a celebration of the receiving of the Torah. On the same day (Sivan 6), Jesus poured out his Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Ghost) on his believers (Acts 2). Already at baptism, we receive the Holy Spirit while in confirmation we receive its fullness. The Ruachen (Holy Spirit) has written Torah in the hearts of believers, giving believers the right to live holy lives (Joel 2:28; Jeremiah 31: 31-33; Acts 2).

The Holidays of the Autumn - Yom Teruah (Trumpet or New Year) and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacle) will be fulfilled when the Shofar blows, and Jesus returns to establish his reign on earth (Second coming). It will happen like this: "In a moment, at the last trumpet [shofar], for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will rise to immortality, and we will be transformed" (1 Corinthians 15:52).

When we see how the prophecies of the scriptures in the Old Testament one hundred percent, are fulfilled in Jesus' person, we know that all prophecies about him in the New Testament with the same certainty will be fulfilled. We can trust God because He is reliable, unchangeable, constant rock and faithful. What he says he will do - he does. He is the only one who can give us double shalom, perfect peace - not the temporary and unsatisfactory peace the world gives, but the peace that only heaven can give. David describes this perfect peace: "The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want. He causes me to lie in green pastures. He guides me next to quiet water. He refreshes my soul ... Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I cannot fear any evil, for you are with me "(Ps. 23: 1-4). Chikezie Onuoha MSP