Feast of Saint Luke, Evangelist
‘The Kingdom of God is at hand for you.’”
One of the great themes of the gospels (especially after the resurrection) is the proclamation of peace by Jesus.
Indeed one might suggest that one of the signs of the resurrection, one of the signs that Jesus is present and in our midst, is when the community find themselves ‘at peace’ or find themselves in a moment where a deep sense of peacefulness has surrounded their relationships and brought about a new sense of awareness.
In such moments, as Jesus often reminds us, “the Kingdom of God” is close to us (or we are enclosed by it!). It is in such moments that one is invited to ‘see’ more deeply.
We probably sense this ourselves, just from our own experiences in life. There are moments, and often only moments, where a couple feel a deeper sense of connection, a deeper peace in each others’ company. There are moments where a meal, a conversation, a walk, a panoramic outlook all capture us and in the silence we are more in touch with deeper sense of ourselves in connection with the Other – be it partner, our companion of the moment or our God.
The peace of the moment itself is not itself the experience of God’s reign breaking into our lives, but it is a sign that we are standing on holy ground and that we are ‘close’ to God in such moments. We only need to open our hearts in prayer or humble silence to know more deeply that our God is near and acting for or with us.
This seems to be the key message of Jesus to the disciples in today’s gospel text. Yes there are many instructions – mostly about the missionary logistics of first century Palestine. But the core of the instructions to the disciples seems to be that first of all they are to be bearers of ‘peace’. They are to let it resound and surround them, and through their actions and witness it is to encompass others. If and when peace resounds in the relationships they form then the ‘kingdom’ can flourish and grow in that place, in that moment.
Not being distracted by possessions, purses, seeking better accommodation or status are means to an end – namely, a peaceful, quiet calm that one needs if one is to see, feel and experience the deeper reality of God’s presence.
Other aspects of today’s readings bear witness to the same reality. Jesus speaks of behaviours that bring about healing, or that reflect humility, compassion and forgiveness – all of which contribute to the bring about a deeper peace in life. In this sense these actions also become keys to enable the reign of God to come about.
Let us make them our own standard and let us live by them in daily life.
Fr. Denis Travers, C.P., is a member of Holy Spirit Province, Australia. He currently serves on the General Council and is stationed in Rome.