Finding Peace

Submitted by FatherAthanasios on Thu, 06/23/2022 - 08:11

Saint Seraphim of Sarov taught, “Acquire the Spirit of Peace and a thousand souls around you will be saved.” We pray for peace in ever Orthodox Christian Church service, not just once but many times. Saint Paul taught, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” (Romans 12.18) How do we find peace in a world filled with chaos?

At that time, when Jesus got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, "Save us, O Lord; we are perishing." And he said to them, "Why are you afraid, O men of little faith?" Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, "What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?" – Matthew 8.23.27

The first disciples of Christ were professional fishermen. They knew the sea and they knew how to handle storms. So, why did they panic when they found themselves in a storm? I imagine they thought, “How could He [Christ] just lie there asleep during the storm? Doesn’t He know how serious this is?” Isn’t that what we think when we are in the midst of our storms? Where is Christ that we would feel such panic.

Ever since God lead Moses and His People out of Egypt, He has always promised that His Presence would go with His People. Once the Temple was constructed, His Presence was promised to be His Temple. God taught His People there was no need to panic, because His Presence would be with them on their journey. The Disciples panicked because they forgot they were in God’s presence.

Christ changed the way His Presence was experienced in the world. With His coming in the flesh, now the world could experience His PHYSICAL presence, not just His spiritual presence. We do this through Holy Communion. This is the same reason visitors to our Churches ‘feel different’ when they enter the Church. They don’t realize it, but they are in the physical presence of God. What they feel, in that moment is the peace that radiates from God.

I like to say, “There is the peace of the world, and there is the peace of God.” The peace of the world, like the peace that exists between Egypt and Israel, might be a lack of conflict, but only so long as the tanks are pointing at each other. That is not peace. Peace comes from God, not tanks. There is no such thing as peace through strength. At best, the world can only offer lack of conflict.

What Saint Seraphim of Sarov was teaching was that if we can find that inner quietness, the peace that ONLY comes from God, then others will see our calm and be drawn into God’s grace. If people merely see a lack of conflict, but a life filled with anxiety and panic, they will move on in search of God’s peace. Today, my brothers and sisters, seek the inner peace of God to calm your storm. Go to the Church, where He promised you would be in His Presence. There is no need to panic when you are in God’s presence.

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