On what does our peace depend?

In this week’s Gospel Jesus says to his disciples “peace be with you.” What does this peace mean? I think it invites us to think about what our sense of peace is dependent upon? Does it depend upon everything in our life going right and that we have no issues or problems to deal with? As idyllic as that would be (and who would not want that?) it is not reality and it is not the kind of peace that Jesus was talking about.

The disciples were going through a lot of turmoil and chaos at that time. Public crucifixion was commonplace in the time of Jesus and the disciples knew that what happened to Jesus could happen to them. This was in addition to them witnessing what had happened to Jesus and their own feelings of shame for having not stood up when the occasion called for it. It was into this situation that Jesus appears and offers the words “peace be with you.” What Jesus was conveying to the disciples was that it was still possible to have peace in the midst of utter chaos.

We may ask how is that possible? I believe that Jesus’ presence to his disciples at this point in their lives was telling them that God is equally present in all the circumstances of our lives. In the simple act of Jesus eating a piece of grilled fish in the presence of his disciples the message is clear; there is no human function that God is not a part of. Moreover in appearing to them in all his glory Jesus communicates that turmoil and chaos will pass and new life will emerge. Jesus opens their minds to understand the scriptures so that they will not only receive this message at head level but also receive it at the level of the heart.

Today we too are invited to open our minds and understand the scriptures. When we reflect on times when we have faced chaos or turmoil in our lives usually the best solutions come about when we decide what to do from a standpoint of peace and calm. The outer circumstances may not have changed. What has happened is that we have changed. Cultivating a sense of inner peace gives us the opportunity to live our lives full of hope and joy. This is the peace that Jesus offers to us in today’s Gospel as it acknowledges the reality of our lives. This is the peace God hopes that we will extend to others.