Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Easter
(Acts 14:19-28; John 14:27-31a)
Christ and Culture was written by H. Richard Niebuhr in the early 1950s to describe different approaches theologians have taken to the world. It says that some Christian writers have seen the world as intractably evil and opposed it. Others, it continues, have found the world as fundamentally good and endorsed it. It recommends more nuanced approaches. These will recognize the world as a mixture of good to be embraced and of bad to be shunned if it cannot be transformed. In today’s gospel Jesus is more negative. He speaks of the world as the realm of the devil.
As the devil’s domain, the peace of the world is delusory at best. It may seem like a good thing but can bring about great harm. It is the absence of sensitivity that excessive alcohol induces or the exuberance of illicit sex. Jesus’ peace is permanent serenity because it frees one from sin and bestows the Holy Spirit.
We should be at least cautious of what the world offers. Certainly society still bears some good as it was created by God. But it has been compromised over time by the persistent presence of evil. In any case we will want to sow in it the seed of the gospel by doing good in the name of Jesus.