Third Sunday after Pentecost

"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1)

What does Saint Paul the Apostle mean by "we have peace"?

He is speaking about behaviour and everyday living. He spoke before about faith and the impossibility of salvation without it. Through good works, he is telling us how to behave now - how to show our life with the faith. "Peace with God" means not to go back and commit sin, not to go back to the old life of just pleasing the body without pleasing God.

But how can we not return to sin?

Saint Paul is saying "we have been liberated through Christ from our sins, and also through Him we can keep away from sin. To gain peace with God is one thing, but to keep it is another."

According to Saint Gregory Palamas there are three types of peace:

  1. Peace towards ourselves;
  2. Peace towards our neighbours;
  3. Peace towards God.

Another saint says: "Peace is a liberation from our desires. It cannot be achieved except through the Holy Spirit."

Christ has done the difficult thing. He has brought us the peace with God. But it is up to us to keep it. We were away from Him, now we are close to Him.

Saint Paul often compares what God has given us, with what we can give back. Christ is the One who died for us, giving us the kingdom of heaven. We must respond with faith. He says "it is by faith and through Jesus that we have entered this state of grace" (Romans 5:2). Which grace? The grace of knowing God, of being liberated from our sins, of knowing the truth, of gaining a life of virtue through baptism.

Saint Paul did not stop at just that. He went on to promise much more, which people normally do not like to talk about. He said "and that is not all we rejoice about. We can rejoice about our sufferings" (5:3). We rejoice not only in our faith, but also in our sufferings. These sufferings can lead us to inner beauty. Even though sufferings can seem heavy, they can bring happiness and peace, if we have the right attitude.

"These sufferings bring patience". Most people get depressed when heavy with suffering, and may lose hope. But suffering is good if it teaches patience; because "patience brings perseverance, and perseverance brings hope " (5:3-4).

This hope does not bring disappointment because the basis of this hope is the love of God. "God's love for us has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit" (5:5). God's dynamic power has infused our hearts with His love. "The Holy Spirit has been given to us" (5:5). God, out of his endless generosity, has kindly given us His own dynamic life power.

How can we prove this?

We can see this from what He has done for us, and what He has done with us. God showed us His love. He sent His Spirit of truth. God's love poured out for us, and that is the best gift God has given us. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit makes us angels - spiritual messengers, and children of God.

According to the church fathers, it is God's love which unites us to God. The love which He loved us with. The love which He showed for us when His Son Jesus (1) died for us; (2) did so while we were still sinners; (3) reconciled us to our Creator; and (4) saved us, making us His children and His heirs to His kingdom of eternity.

It is our job to accept His love in our hearts, to commune with His love, and to radiate His love in all we do all our life.

May God's Peace, and His Love, be with you always, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen

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