Being at Peace
It’s always interesting to read articles with a creative twist. Recently someone wrote: “Our Lord is the greatest after-dinner speaker of all times. His final discourse after the Last Super was given on the evening of his farewell. He had just finished celebrating the Eucharist meal with his disciples when he empowered them with the words, ‘Do this in memory of me.’ Like all farewell speeches, he announced his departure and the reason for his going. Jesus clearly stated that he was going to the One who sent him, for if he did not go the Advocate would not come. But unlike the usual farewell celebration speech, the one leaving did not receive a gift but, rather gave a gift. Jesus gave his gift of peace saying, ‘My peace I leave you!’”
Beginning with the story of Christmas, Jesus is often given the title Prince of Peace. We hear him over and over in the New Testament speak words of peace and comfort to his followers and to all who came to him during his final three years on earth. “Fear not,” “Do not worry,” “Be not afraid,” “I give you peace,” “My peace be with you.” Peace! Peace! Words repeated page after page in the Scriptures – and yet we are not peace-filled. Not the world…not its people…sometimes, not even ourselves!
How often we have felt or even expressed frustration and anxiety and have not been peaceful.
Eckhart Tolle tells us that most people are chasing after what will give them peace. They treat the present moment as if it were an obstacle that they need to overcome. But, he says, this moment is our life! This is where our happiness lies! This is where our peace can be found! Ask yourself: Why does my next moment seem to be better and more important than the present one? Why is there such an unrest in my life?
True, there were times when we have experienced a worldly sense of peace and everything was going our way. But the peace Jesus gives is a totally different kind of peace. Remember – constant unrest and anxiousness are not the conditions in which God wants us to live. Jesus’ peace is meant to make us calm and loving people even when all natural reasoning says we should be upset. We know and believe that God definitely desires us to be at peace. It is to this peace-filled life that we are called — to a place where everything and everyone in the created order has a right relationship and to where all can reach their God-given potential.
Where and how can we discover this peacefulness in life? Can we allow our hearts to tell us what our head already knows? Yes, and this can be accomplished more readily when we realize our inner state of calm comes in quiet moments of reflection and prayer. In John’s gospel we hear Jesus’ words, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you”…”Do not let your hearts be troubled or disturbed nor be afraid.” Listen to these words. Believe that we can have anything God says we can have. So we can have peace
“Peace be with you!” This meaningful greeting became a common Christian greeting in the New Testament writings. Paul, in his writing to the Thessalonians, began his letter with “Grace and peace to you.” as he addressed the churches of his time. The word “peace” has its roots in the Hebrew “shalom.” How fitting a word shared at the Eucharistic celebration meaning “wholeness” — wanting things to be as they should be. When we pronounce the same words to our community members at each Mass we are saying that we cannot become one with the Lord unless we recognize him in the people around us. We aren’t just any group of people who happen to be meeting together as friends. We are the Church! Our words of peace are a response to God’s word and an act of faith, believing and affirming that we are answering God’s call and accepting his empowerment to offer God’s peace to each other.
St. Francis of Assisi pointed us in the right direction when he gave us the road map to becoming peace-filled individuals. In his familiar Prayer for Peace we ask the Lord to give us love, pardon, faith, hope, light and joy — qualities alone that can bring about peace. We further pray in this prayer to be a vehicle of consolation, understanding and giving that we may die to our own desires and be born to eternal life – born in God’s peace forever. This prayer can guide us to become, in the words of Francis himself, “true instruments of that peace” for ourselves and to others
Finally, we can look to Pope Francis as an example to the world of someone who is the epitome of peace. He lives what he preaches! In a recent talk he asked his audience, “How is your heart today? Is it at peace?” He further said, “Ask God for the grace of wisdom to make peace in the little things of each day, but aiming at the horizons of the whole of humanity.” Let this be our desire and our prayer!
Sr. Lauretta Leipzig