Receiving peace

Peace seems to be elusive in today’s world, not just at a global level, but even down to our individual lives.  It seems to escape us the more vigorously we chase it. Perhaps it’s not something to be captured, but rather given and received.

In a recent gospel passage from daily Mass, Jesus sends 72 disciples to prepare the towns and villages for His arrival and to begin to proclaim the good news. His instructions included: ‘On entering any house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If there is a peaceable man there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will come back to you.” (Lk 10:5-6) In a way, this reminds me of Jesus’ first appearance to the Apostles after His resurrection, when He said, “Peace to you.” (Lk 24:36) Peace seems to be given by the person visiting another, that is to say that a visitor does not come to bring dissension, but harmony with and to the household. I’m sure we’ve all had a visitor or two who did not bring peace to the home. Those visits are often uncomfortable and can challenge any peace we may have. But visitors, who — while they may not come in wishing peace upon the house — bring the love, joy and acceptance of friendship — end up making the visit not only enjoyable and also offer the hope for future visits.

While a visitor seems to be the bearer of peace to our homes, it’s almost the reverse in Church. Jesus’ peace is not just given during the Mass when a priest says, “Peace be with you.” His peace is offered to us the moment we step into a church or chapel. However, we cannot take it from Him, rather we need to receive it: to be open to Him. If it were tangible, we would not be able to grab at it, rather we would need to open our hands and let Him place it in our palms. We should strive not be like the guests who come to complain and criticize and then leave without His peace. Even though we are on His turf, so to speak, we still need to be like the homeowner who welcomes a visitor and lets His peace rest upon all within, no matter the distractions around us.

How beautiful it is when peace, either from Jesus or a visitor, rests on us; it is precisely this peace that we can then offer to others. It’s truly a gift.

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