I’ve read the words in the Gospels and I’ve heard the line proclaimed in Mass a million times, yet I’ve largely blown by it. But recently, my brain zoomed in on this sentence as I read the recounting of the Ascension of our Lord Jesus in Luke. “Peace be with you.” (Luke 24:36)
Before reading the bible one recent evening, I spent a few minutes praying for people I know. Like so many of us, I have a lot of people in my life who are going through a variety of trials, from health to family conflict to personal struggles. I prayed for their healing, that God would fix what was broken in them. Then as I read Luke, I suddenly found Jesus’ choice of words so interesting. He was about to leave them to ascend to His Father and they were facing some very big trials and he gave them peace. Jesus didn’t give them happiness or an assurance of an easy road ahead. He gave them peace, but what is that exactly?
Peace springs forth from faith. It is a calmness in the midst of a storm that reassures us that we are not alone and that God has everything in hand. Peace is not a guarantee that everything will work out as we want it to, but it is a promise that God’s plan will be fulfilled through us if we believe. It takes faith to accept that whatever happens to us here will ultimately, be the best possible result for our eternity. It may be difficult now, it may be painful now, but it will be for good. That knowledge, that awareness brings peace.
Peace is also something that we can’t achieve on our own. It truly is a gift given to us when we place our trust in the Lord. It’s something that we have to pray that we can accept because, let’s face it, total trust may not be so easy to have in every situation. Surely, even when we are aware of this gift Jesus offers us, we may still face periods of fear, despair or panic. We may have our “moments” of doubt and anxiety. The disciples certainly did. They initially freaked out in several situations! But when we consistently accept Christ’s offer of peace, we get to that place quicker. We may still have our first moment of panic but then we quickly remember Him. We are in His care; we are under His protection. Faith, that beautiful gift our Lord gives us, is the cornerstone of this peace. Accepting His gift of peace takes prayer and practice. The more we accept it, the more He gives us and the faster we move from anxiety to His peace.
As I reflected on this, it occurred to me that the best prayer that I can offer for anyone in any situation is that the peace of the Lord be upon them. There is simply no other remedy that will provide true, lasting relief! This understanding is changing the way I’m praying for others and for myself. We all need to accept the gift of peace from Jesus. It will help us ride out all of life’s crazy ups and downs with security and steadiness. We can then pass that gift to others who are navigating difficult paths and in doing so, spread His love and most importantly, His peace in our communities.