Classic words of Jesus to his early disciples the night before he died: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you…" Now, Jesus’ message to us this 5th week of Easter, 2010.
Peace is a beautiful reality, impossible to define and yet experienced by all of us at various times and in various ways. Peace can be thought of in a negative way, such as an absence of war between peoples, or a lack of turmoil within a family, or freedom from anxiety in one’s heart. But true peace is something positive…a sense of tranquility and harmony and life that comes from unity. Nations are truly at peace when they cooperate with each other; a family is at peace when they live together in harmony; a person is at peace when resting confidently in the loving arms of Jesus. Peace is truly something positive — and precious!
This positive, precious peace is the farewell gift of Jesus to his disciples – and us. Jesus gave us more than descriptive / "nice" words about peace: He also gave us the means to find peace, and that "means" is His very Body and Blood in the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the sign of unity in the Church, the means by which we become one in Christ. By uniting us in Himself, Jesus unites us with one another – leading to a harmony and positive spirit that builds up the Body of Christ…and helps heal our troubled, fearful hearts…peace. No doubt, Paul and Barnabas based their exciting and fruitful missionary journeys on the peace and strength they experienced in celebrating the Eucharist.
The reality of peace and the Eucharist works both ways: if we are true to the Eucharist, if we respond to the grace offered us in Holy Communion, we will find true peace in our hearts, and we’ll live in peace with one another. And, our needy, broken world will breathe a sigh of contentment, relief and encouragement: Aaahhh! No troubles, no fears…just rejoicing — in faith.
With the psalmist we proclaim: May all creation bless God’s holy name forever!
Fr. John Schork, C.P. is the local leader of the Passionist community in Louisville, Kentucky.