(Divine Mercy Sunday)
When Jesus appeared to the apostles after the resurrection, he would greet them with the words,“Peace be with you.”
They were distressed and fearful, huddled together in the Upper Room behind locked doors.
They were sad and distraught that the One they had come to love had been murdered. They were afraid that the religious leaders would crucify them as well.
They very much needed some peace. So the first thing Jesus says when he appears to them is “Peace be with you.”
Thus, peace is an Easter gift. It’s a gift that we can claim and pray for.
I’m not talking about peace between Israelis and Palestinians or Republicans and Democrats.
We usually think about coming to peace with others. But we have to seek peace within ourselves first.
The question is: How do we come to peace within ourselves? If our mind is racing, if we cannot sit still for a few minutes, then we’re not at peace. Something may be askew in our environment that is causing us to be unsettled and anxious. Something in our life may be causing us to not enjoy our own company.
But the real problem for many is that we may not like ourselves. We may choose to avoid our own company by watching TV, listening to music or going out to a bar or a club or drink or pop some pills to avoid being alone.
Yes, peace is a gift that every one of us needs. Peace within ourselves.
Being able to be calm and peaceful is a good indicator of our soul’s health. We should be at peace. And if we’re not, then we have our agenda laid out for us ~ to find out what is causing the lack of peace. Usually lack of peace is caused by something going on in us on the spiritual level. We learn to deal with our lack of peace by making deliberate efforts to be alone and to enjoy our own company.
Remember, that peace is a gift of the risen Lord. We can and ought to pray for that gift.
We can value it, beginning today on this second Sunday of Easter. And then we can be assured that it will come to us sooner or later.
I have known both peace and anxiety; I have known a terrible fear that would give me no peace, even though I desperately sought it.
1) In 1982, I was hospitalized and the medication I was on made me want to crawl out of my skin. I couldn’t settle my limbs for more than a couple of seconds. But then, finally, something happened inside my soul — a religious experience. I had in a dream — that calmed me as if a terrible storm had abated. From that moment on, I knew what peace is like.
In such an experience, the peace is soul-embracing. You feel free, you feel content and settled. You feel connected with your loved ones, your environment, with God, indeed with the whole universe.
And you feel worthwhile. You feel that your own connectedness helps form the connection with others, with the whole world.
2). Two of my friends had a horrible rift that I felt I was asked to try to reconcile . I chose to make a small effort at bringing the two together, but saw that it was impossible without heavy sessions between them. My peace had been unsettled by their lack of peace. So, we see that not practicing peacefulness has a ripple effect. More and more people get caught up in the unrest, the lack of peace.
And so it was with the Apostles locked in the Upper Room, too. Peter had not yet emerged as their leader, so they were floundering and confused. They were without hope.
That is why it is so important to be at peace.
3.) I now seek an abiding peace, a peace that stays with me. And I take steps to deepen and enrich my feeling of peacefulness.
I’ve been given the tools to enjoy my peace of mind and peace of soul. I can sit for a time at night in the dark, in silence, just simply “being.” In these hours, I realize that I am valuable, even though I am “doing nothing.” I just “be.”
Whenever I used to at preach at funerals, I often ask the question — Would you be content to feel the way you feel at this moment for all eternity? Would you be at peace if God called you to himself in the next moment?
I could sometimes answer my own question and answer: Yes, I would be content to feel as I feel at the present moment for all eternity.
4.) The Apostles were disturbed after the crucifixion. Their life with Jesus ~ their hopes and dreams for the future ~ seemed to be shattered. They were afraid that the leaders would come for them and crucify them as well.
These issues were so strong in them that they could not bring themselves to believe the message that the Women brought them that Jesus had been raised. They were not at peace.
. . . . Until Jesus appeared to them. They no longer had to rely on faith, which was lacking for all of them. They experienced the Risen One for themselves.
Then enter Thomas. He is not at peace. He says that “unless he puts his finger in the nail-marks and his hand into his side, he will not believe.”
Thomas is honest.
Thomas needed to be convinced. He refused to say that he understood what he did not understand or to say he believed what he did not believe. There was an uncompromising honesty about him, says our scripture scholar friend William Barclay.
But when he was sure, he went all the way, My Lord and My God,” he proclaimed!
And Jesus responded by saying, “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”
Many more of us doubt significant things in our life. Specifically, we doubt our own self-worth.
We doubt matters of faith. We take our faith far more seriously by questioning and pursuing our questions than by relegating our faith to some closet in our mind. Some of us have had their faith shaken by a personal crisis or a scandal in the church.
Pursue your questions, though they may be painful. The questions can lead to a deeper faith. The turmoil, the risk of the Quest is better than stagnation.
Life for me today makes sense. I am at peace. I consider myself a Witness to the Resurrection. I know Jesus lives. He is not just a historical figure who lived in the past. He lives and reigns in the universe today. I know his love for me in the present moment.
I praise and thank God and his Son Jesus Christ our Lord for the gift of his peace.
One final thought: We cannot share peace if we do not have peace. If we want there to be peace in our homes, we have to have peace within ourselves. Then we can share it.
THE PEACE OF THE LORD BE WITH YOU!
And now before you go, a couple of things. First, today is also known as Divine Mercy Sunday.
Divine Mercy Sunday is celebrated on the Sunday after Easter. It is originally based on the Devotion to the Divine Mercy that Saint Faustina Kowalska reported as part of her encounter with Jesus, and is associated with special promises from Jesus and indulgences issued by the Church. The image above is the lovely image of Jesus associated with this devotion. During this extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, this Sunday is like its Feast Day.
And now, here is a powerful song to pull all of this together: Click here.
And, finally here are the Mass readings for today. Click here.