From the Desk of Fr. Larry… (Sixth Sunday of Easter May 26, 2019)
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you.” (John 14:27)
We all long for peace. Even moments to just catch our breath, be still, to allow our heart and mind to slow down, “to stop and smell the roses.” In this passage from today, Jesus tells us that, when we feel peace within ourselves, we can share it with others.
So what exactly is this peace that Jesus gives us, that he leaves with us? Does it mean that Jesus has given his all to us, and has kept nothing for himself? In a way, yes. Yet, like God giving us his only Son to dwell with us, to teach and minister to us, to die for us, and to rise for us – like Jesus offers himself to us every Sunday in the Word and His Real Presence in the Consecrated Bread and Wine, His Body and Blood – all of this is given to us and we have the choice of two responses: to receive it as a gift freely given with no expectation of being loved in return, or to reject it.
So back to the question: What exactly is this peace of Jesus that he leaves for us and offers to us? For me, the peace of Jesus is best captured in the Hebrew word shalom or the Arabic al salaam. It is not those momentary or even prolonged periods of calmness that we might experience or long for. It is much deeper than that!
The peace that Jesus offers us is found in binding ourselves intimately to the Holy Spirit of God which we believe as Christians flows from the intimate, unconditional, all-encompassing love between Father and Son, between Creator and Redeemer.
By Jesus offering us this peace, His peace, He offers us a direct connection to the God of life, our lifeline between this life and eternal life to come.
The peace of shalom, in its purest sense, and as we express it to one another in the Mass, is expressed this way: “Peace be with you” translates, “I wish for you whatever needs to happen in your life for you to find your truest self, to discover the unique person that God made you to become, to uncover and develop and share as fully as possible the unique gifts that God has placed in you. As difficult as this may be at times, I wish that you would accept the gift of the Holy Spirit which Christ offers you as your daily companion in your journey to reach the fullness of your God-given potential, for in that you will find true peace, the peace of Christ.”
My brothers and sisters, that is what we are saying to each other when, at the Sign of Peace, we say “Peace be with you!” to one another. Four simple words convey our longing, our hope, Christ’s longing, Christ’s hope for each of us. Peace be with you!
My belief as a Christian (Catholic) pastor is that opportunity is always presenting itself. No matter what difficult things life throws at us, I believe God always presents a way for us to follow to lead us to new opportunities to pursue and realize our dreams.
Father Larry is a leader at St. Agatha’s Church in the North Lawndale community, in Chicago, Illinois. Father Larry is passionate about the programs the church is able to offer the community.
On Thursday, Father Larry Dowling talked about what he observed in the North Lawndale area since he became a resident. Father Larry has lived in Chicago for 40 years, and more specifically, the North Lawndale area for 11 years. He became a priest at St. Agatha’s Church when he was asked by the parishioners.