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A Peace the World Cannot Give

Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator

This morning's paper here in Chicago tells of a young woman who saved a child in her charge by pushing the child out of the path of an oncoming vehicle. She was critically wounded herself when the vehicle hit her instead. Yesterday's news carried the story of a man in Florida who came to the rescue of his pet dog when it was attacked by an alligator. He jumped on the back of the gator and forced it to release the dog. He was not injured. A few days ago, a young woman caught a child who jumped from a burning building, thus saving the child from life threatening injuries from the fall. I am sure that you could relate similar incidents from the local media.

Some time ago, President Obama bestowed the Medal of Honor on a young Iowa soldier who braved enemy fire to try to save his wounded comrade. The story of his efforts filled our newspapers and electronic media for days. After he received the medal, he was feted at local sporting events and heard the deafening cheers of grateful citizens. His story is still being recounted months after it became known.

What is it that gives men and women the kind of courage and strength necessary to come to the aid of their fellow human beings when they are in dire circumstances? How do they find the wherewithal to plunge into situations that could result in their own deaths to save another person? Perhaps they are experiencing the same thing that Paul, Barnabas, and Jesus experience in today's readings from the Lectionary for Mass.

Paul and Barnabas continue their missionary efforts in the face of threats of bodily harm and even death. Jesus bids his apostles the gift of peace as he faces his own passion and death. In both instances, the Scriptures relate that it is the Holy Spirit with the gift of peace that makes it possible for them to face such perils with courage and strength.

The media usually does not relate anything about the faith of modern day heroes. It would be interesting to try to correlate their faith with their deeds. Be that as it may, as we near the Feast of Pentecost we are gradually being reintroduced to the truth of the Spirit's power in our lives through the Scriptures. The peace that Jesus bestows on his disciples in today's Gospel passage is surely part of the equation. May we all know such peace.

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