Peace Be With You
Second Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday)
Scripture Readings: Acts 5:12-16; Ps 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24; Rev 1:9-11, 12-13, 17-19;
My dear encountered couples:
“Peace!” Jesus wishes his friends, “Peace!” Three times in our gospel today Jesus, the Prince of Peace, says, “PEACE BE WITH YOU.”
Jesus knew that his apostles and disciples were very upset and disturbed over his death. They were frightened that being his followers the same could happen to them. So, they hid themselves away in someone’s house, hoping they would not be found by anyone in authority, and locked the doors. When news came to them by way of Mary Magdalene that the body of Jesus was gone, that she had even seen him, that he had risen from the dead, they really became confused; they didn’t know what to think. They weren’t too sure they believed her. Like Thomas they were probably afraid to believe it. They had already had their hopes and dreams shattered enough and they were determined not to risk another heartbreak. So, Jesus came to them, through the locked doors, to put their hearts at rest. “Peace be with you,” he said to them. He did not want them to be afraid or upset. What he was about to reveal to them could only be accepted by trusting and tranquil hearts.
How could Jesus wish them peace when he knew that anyone who would follow after him and continue his work would experience anything but peace? Persecution, imprisonment, torture, even death lay before many of those who would become Christian. Not only does Jesus wish his disciples peace, he came to earth to bring peace to everybody. The Son of God become Man to put our souls at rest by taking upon himself all the horrors our sins have created. Jesus came to reconcile us to God and to one another, to bring peace and harmony, brotherhood and love.
To live in the peace of Christ is necessary for the Holy Spirit to be able to do his work in us and produce our spiritual growth. It cannot happen when we live in a state of fear, turmoil, and with a lack of trust in God.
If we study the teachings of Christ, we will find that many of those teachings are mainly for that very purpose - to make peace possible in our hearts. Let me mention some of those teachings so that you can see what I mean:
“Love your enemies,” Jesus said. “Pray for your persecutors, offer no resistance to injury. When a person strikes you on the right cheek, turn and offer him the other. If a person wants to go to law over your shirt, hand him your coat as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him two miles.” (Mt. 5)
Does that sound to you like Jesus is telling us to be cowards, to surrender to anyone who mistreats us? On the contrary, Jesus is telling us to do something that requires much more bravery than it takes to strike back at someone who hurts us. He was telling us to look evil right in the eye and defy it to upset our tranquility. We are not to allow anything to defeat us by getting us into a turmoil.
With trust in God we are to face whatever and whoever tries to harm us. We are to pray for God’s assistance and expect it. Then, by doing our best to understand why someone is hurting us, we can be led to sympathy for that person, to praying for him, to trust in God to help us work out the problem. This is certainly not easy, but it is intended for our peace of mind which we would never arrive at if we were always hating our enemies and wishing them the worst.
Jesus not only agreed with the Old Testament commandment not to commit murder, he also told us we should not so much as be angry with one another, nor use abusive language towards one another, we are not to call each other names. He even went so far as to say something about our being here at Mass, “If you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, go first to be reconciled with your brother and then come and offer your gift.” “Lose no time; settle with your opponent before he gets you into court.” (Mt. 5)
Jesus is telling us all this to help us find the way to inner peace. Anger, arguments, dissension usually get us nowhere except to ulcers, heart attacks, and increased animosity. But faith in God to help us handle every potential confrontation can help keep us peaceful inside and more able to bring about a solution that is favorable to everyone involved.
And then there is the famous answer Jesus gave to Peter’s question about forgiveness: “How many times should I forgive someone for a wrong done to me?” Peter asked Jesus.” Seven times?” “No,” said Jesus, “not seven times, but seventy times seven times.” (Mt. 18). This answer was not merely meant to encourage us to practice mercy and let our offenders off the hook; it was intended for our own peace of mind. If we are to have inner peace, then we must forgive others not just some of the time, we must forgive them - ALL THE TIME!
These teachings of Jesus, and many others, were intended for our own good. They are for the purpose of our obtaining inner peace and tranquility. Granted, peace is a gift from God, it is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit being active within us. But we, by living in accordance with the teachings of Christ, can help make ourselves more open and receptive to receiving that peace.
“Peace be with you,” Jesus told his friends. Would you like to experience the peace of Christ? Me toot Then let us pray for it, let us open our hearts to it, let us try much harder to live the way Jesus taught us.