Peace be with you. My peace be with you.

Tom Bartolomeo
Easter Day C 2013
Acts 10: 34a, 37-43; Colossians 3: 1-4;
1 Corinthians 5: 6b-8; John 20: 1-9
Reproduced with Permission

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid". (John 14:27) These were Jesus's parting words at the Last Supper preparing his Apostles for their days ahead, "If the world hates you know that it has hated me before it has hated you", he said. It is as true today as it was then. That same night Jesus was arrested and on the next day crucified. During the intervening days despite Jesus' calming words of peace the Apostles remained fearful, had even doubted Mary Magdalene's announcement, "I have seen the Lord".

[That evening], the first day of the week, [as recorded in John's Gospel] . . .the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

Jesus then repeated, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." A week later Jesus again reassured his disciples, "Peace be with you." (John 20:18-27).

Jesus' Apostles were not prepared for his death and crucifixion as, perhaps, we are not prepared for living in peace in this crucible of a painful world. We should all understand, however, that there is no resurrection including ours without a crucifixion. For some Easter is about parades and bunnies who in some inexplicable way lay Easter eggs. But the peace of Christ spoke of then and today is still carried on a cross. This crucial interrelationship of suffering and peace, the cross and the resurrection - the Evangelist John explained in his gospel , written thirty years after Matthew's, Luke's and Mark's gospels. John the "beloved" Apostle of our Lord recorded his gospel at ninety, the last surviving Apostle who came to appreciate more than the others the relationship between the wood of the cross and the "tree of life" found in the garden of Eden with the first man and woman. John and our Blessed Mother were Jesus' only disciples who stood beneath the cross and the tree of life to hear Jesus breathe his last saying , "It is finished", after they were told, "Woman behold your son!" and to the Apostle, "Behold your mother." (John 19:26-27).

This Mass and every Mass repeats this memorial of the peace of Christ integrated into his death and resurrection especially before the distribution of the Body and Blood of Christ when I will say as his priest:

Lord Jesus Christ, who said to your Apostles: Peace I leave you, my peace I give you, look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church, and graciously grant her peace and unity in accordance with your will. Who live and reign for ever and ever. Amen. [Then Followed with] The peace of the Lord be with you always [and with your response] And with your spirit.

Of course, the world calls this "foolish" as the Apostle Paul reminded us: "For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart." . . . Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? (1 Corinthians 1:18-21).

But what of the peace God 'leaves us'? "I will lie down in peace", says the Psalmist, "and sleep comes at once for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety." Since "our kingdom is not of this world", as Christ told Pilate, then we can endure in peace, accept any hardship as Christ promised, "learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:29-30). Who among us can lie "down in peace and sleep comes at once" or be "humble of heart and . . .find rest for your soul[s]?"

We must first recognize the fact that our disordered, diseased natures are conflicted, a kind of schizophrenia, a body in control of mind and will or a spirit (soul) in control. Left to our own devices - without God's - we devolve sadly into a lower nature, lonely and 'misunderstood', we think, never really happy, satisfied or at peace. "Not as the world gives", said Jesus. "My peace I give to you", was such that Jesus' disciples ultimately found the courage and joy to overcome their fear and gave their lives for God for everlasting peace with Him.

The cross is a sign of contradiction, originally a sign of cruelty and death, but for Christians a sign of hope and life. During its reign of conquest and terror Rome crucified over 250,000 people and an empire died. The reign of Christ on earth continues to grow and suffer in peace for the Kingdom of God and a world without end.

The peace of the Lord be with you always.