Day 29 - Consolation
Rejoice at all times in the Lord; again I shall say [it]: rejoice! Let your decency be known to all people. The Lord is near: don’t be anxious about anything, but in all your prayer and intercession, with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God; and the peace of God which is beyond all imagining will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
For the rest, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is righteous, whatever is holy, whatever is agreeable, whatever is attractive, anything that is virtue or praise – think of these things.
And whatever you have learnt and received and heard and seen in me – do these things.
And the God of peace will be with you.
A sign that we are living our life closely aligned to God’s dream for us is the peace that flows from this. St Paul had experienced this after his dramatic change of direction in life, from being the great persecutor of the early Church to beings its greatest missionary. He encountered the risen Christ in a mysterious way on the road to Damascus, and a tremendous courage and deep peace replaced the angry, persecuting zeal. In one of his early journeys he had visited the town of Phillipi in Greece; it became one of the earliest churches in Europe and Paul and the community retained a mutual admiration and affection. It is thought that this letter was written and sent to them by Paul from prison, possibly facing death. His optimism in the face of a hostile judgement is a great testament to the strength of his faith, but also to his disillusionment with ‘the world’. There are times in our lives where our faith is tested and this can reveal great resilience; peace is often a confirmation that the Lord is with us in our time of trial. We think of the witness of so many Christians in persecuted lands, so many refugees and those who are bereaved or who are facing upheaval in a change of career or family situations.
Risen Lord, the Holy Spirit offers us a bouquet of gifts,
may I always be open to and grateful for their arrival.
When I remember how you offered peace,
through the wounds of your glorious and wounded body,
save me from bitterness as I pass through the storms of life. Amen