Do Not Let Your Hearts be Troubled or Afraid
Reading (Acts 14:19-28) Gospel (St. John 14:27-31a)
In the Gospel reading today, Our Lord begins by telling us that He gives us His peace. And it is not a worldly kind of peace, but rather He tells us with regard to this peace: Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. That is the point of the peace of Christ; it fills our hearts with peace because we have our hearts and our minds focused on Him. We recognize that He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. He is sovereign over all things and nothing happens unless it is His Will, which is why at the end of the reading He can tell us that the ruler of this world is coming, who He has told us earlier is Satan. But He says, “He has no power over Me, but the world must know that I love the Father and that I do exactly as He has commanded Me.” And so the fact of His Passion and His Crucifixion, these are points that the Father has commanded the Son to do. It is not something that happened without God’s Will, but rather everything that happens is part of God’s Will.
Now that is difficult for us to understand when we look at some of the unfortunate things that happen. But as we heard in the first reading, Saint Paul tells his disciples in the various towns, “We must undergo many hardships in order to enter the kingdom of God.” And so the Lord allows these things to test us, which is why we have an opportunity in our day, more than any other time in Christian history anyway, to be great saints, because there has never been a time that is so filled with Satanic activity, there has never been a time that has been so evil as this, and if we are willing in the midst of this to recognize that God will use this to bring about great good, He will use all of the nonsense that is around us and all of the filth and all of the evil to ask us a simple question: Where is your heart? Which are you going to choose? In the midst of all of this that is so pervasive anywhere you look, He simply says, “Are you going to choose Me? Are you going to choose the world? Or are you going to try to find a compromise?” Remember what He told us: Be hot or cold because if you are lukewarm I will spew you out of My mouth. Finding a compromise is not an acceptable solution to the Lord. So we have a choice, but the choice that we have to make is a very obvious one and it is a pretty easy one. And if we are going to make that choice, we know that we are going to pay a certain price – but so have Christians throughout history. This is why the Lord tells us, Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. If we are making that choice for Him then we also know we are going to walk the same path as He did, but it also means that our hearts are focused on Him and that nothing happens without His Will. We will be able then at the end of the whole situation to say, “We have done nothing other than what we were commanded by our heavenly Father.”
Look at Saint Paul, they stoned him and dragged him outside the city and left him for dead. But rather than standing up when he came back to and yelling at God, saying, “Why did You allow this to happen to me? I thought You were supposed to protect me! What’s the matter here? This isn’t right. You’re being mean to me! How come You’re doing these things to me?” – like we always tend to do – instead Saint Paul got up and went right back into the same place where they stoned him and he started to preach the Gospel again! He recognized that this was God’s Will.
We need to start to recognize that in all of the things we see as so unfortunate, that this is God’s Will to make us saints. That is what the Lord desires for us. And so we have the simple choice to make: Are we going to choose God or are we going to choose against Him? In our world, the choice should be very easy and it is very clear. All we need to do is make the choice, and we have to be very careful that we do not try to compromise. The Lord did not compromise, His apostles did not compromise, and we do not have that option either. It is either for or against Christ. And if we are going to choose the Lord then we know that we are going to suffer much, but it does not matter because as long as our hearts are focused on Him then we will have His peace. We can be at peace knowing that all of this is part of God’s Will for us and our hearts do not have to be troubled or afraid because it is not in our control – it is in His control – and all we have to do is seek His Will and carry it out in our lives. That is precisely what He meant when He said, I do just what the Father has commanded Me. He sought the will of the Father and He did it; therefore, He could be at perfect peace. That is the peace that He gives to us. Not a worldly peace which is found in the pleasures and comforts and sinful things that the world offers; not a peace which is just simply the absence of war; but the deep, profound peace that comes only from union with the Will of God, knowing that what we are doing is what the Lord wills for us, and the peace that comes from Jesus Himself when our hearts are focused solely on Him.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.