Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, “I am going away, and I am coming to you.” If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me; but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us be on our way.’
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘I do not give to you as the world gives.’
We like to get value for money. We often go to extraordinary lengths to ensure that we do, indeed, get good value. Sometimes we are quite ruthless in our endeavours to get the best for ourselves and for our loved ones, no matter what the cost may be to others.
In today’s reading we hear Jesus offering us a different way of viewing the world. He explicitly says: I do not give to you as the world gives. It is in teaching such as this that many people part company with Christ. The unpredictability of Jesus leaves them feeling insecure and short-changed. They want to be able to predict the return on their investment before they commit their lives to faithful discipleship. They want to know if it is going to be ‘worth’ the effort, whether they are going to get a good rate of interest.
Of course, entering into a relationship with Jesus is not a business transaction, it is about living a life of generous and loving faith. That generous and loving life should be moulded by Christ himself, and not manipulated into a shape that suits our whims and fancies. The true disciple understands the unpredictability and the uncertainty of Jesus not giving as the world gives. The true disciple is ready for the pain of worldly loss in order that he or she might experience the riches beyond measure that God has prepared for us.
How do we come near to matching the message in today’s reading? We have to set self-interest to one side and we have to step into the world in a spirit of humility. We have to stop seeking the highest return for ourselves. We have to stop sacrificing others on the altar of our greed. As we journey through challenging times we have to recall that all times throughout the history of humanity have been challenging. We also have to remember that there have always been those who have been prepared to endure hardship in order that others might know the security of basic human existence, and that those who willingly set self to one side came to know the true rewards of Jesus’ generous love. Then we have to step out in faith, joy and love for all.