Thursday, April 8, 2010

Peace Be With You

Peace is a desire for all humanity. Governments desire it and their armies keep it. But what sort of peace is Christ speaking of when He says in this morning’s Gospel, “Peace be with you.”? The peace that armies keep isn’t peace at all. Military peace, if anything, is a sustained cease fire. Consider the border between Israel and Egypt? The two nations are “at peace” with each other, but each has tanks and armies facing the other to “keep the peace” by any means necessary. Surely this isn’t the peace the Christ offers to us, is it?

The peace that comes from Christ is an inner quiet and stillness that is only made possible by having a relationship with God since it is a gift from God. The Gospel of John tells us, “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them: ‘Peace be with you.’” (John 20.19) It is as if Jesus is telling His disciples (and us) “Don’t worry about the world that is fighting against you, because I have defeated death. You have nothing to worry about even if they threaten you, you will live forever.”

During every Divine Liturgy the Priest turns toward the faithful, blessing the faithful, and says, “Peace be with you.” This is a constant reminder that God grants us His peace so that we can receive that stillness we need in our hearts so we can endure the struggle and suffering in the world. There is only “catch”… if the peace of God is going to dwell in our hearts, we must be willing to receive it. Not the peace of the world do we accept but the peace of God. As Saint Seraphim of Sarov said, “Acquire inner peace and thousands around you will find salvation.”

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