By Kara Johnson
But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. ~John 14:26-27
As we’ve continued through our Easter season, the concept of peace has lingered heavily on my heart. Like waiting for my eyes to acclimate in a dark room, though, I’ve had to really pray, ponder, and reorient myself to see and understand more of what seemed hidden in the shadows.
After His resurrection, Jesus finds His disciples huddled in fear behind locked doors, and the first thing He says is, “Peace to you” John 24:36. Then, fast forward through the rest of His second time on earth, and He announces another departure bookended again by a claim of peace. What a brutal mental, emotional and spiritual rollercoaster! They’d come face to face with immense trauma, confusion, and shame. Then, their beloved Christ miraculously rose from the dead and dwelt among them. Yet, just as the dust starts to settle and their hearts begin to relax and heal, Jesus declares He’s leaving again.
Looking through my previous view of this story, I found myself frustrated, if not a bit hampered by what seemed to be a difficult or inapplicable concept. The situation resembled anything but tranquility, calm, and comfort. How could Christ take in their waves of grief, hope, despair, joy, and utter confusion and simply tell them to have peace? It seemed akin to asking them to catch a cloud or hold on to water. Yet, if I’m being honest, that’s exactly how I felt- staring at my circumstances and unable to find anything resembling peace.
Was Christ giving an impossible command or offering a beautiful promise?
The actual word used in both situations was the common expression “Shalom,” which ancient Jews used to greet each other with a wish for wholeness, health, and welfare. Interestingly, this phrase was recorded as said by Christ only after His passion.
What does it mean?
In our Catholic faith, nothing is by accident; every saying, symbol, and event carries a piece of the past into the present and stands to remind and prepare us for the future.
When Jesus offered “shalom,” He wasn’t simply wishing us well, minimizing circumstances, or brushing over hardship. He was instead wrapping His arms around us, pulling us into His completed victory of the cross, and inviting us to enter into the Mass- a place where Heaven kisses earth, the spiritual becomes physical., and we become whole.
His gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit serves to constantly remind us of our eternal inheritance and our access to Heavenly perfection-even when we’re mired by the confines of earth. Although the world around us looks nothing like our version of peace, the “shalom” Jesus offers is the knowledge that all wrongs will be made right and all wounds will be healed. It’s an invitation to experience His promises and presence through tangible Sacraments and the intimacy of participation in the Mass. The Mass is the essence of shalom, where we make peace with ourselves, our community, and our communion of Heavenly hosts; it’s where the things of earth fade into the background and glory and God’s gracious promises remain.
Oh, Lord, thank you for your great care and concern for us! Please help me cling to you and your promise of peace no matter what my circumstances look like. Remind me that I can always trust you to work and act in accord with your greatest glory and my ultimate good.
Call to Action
Today, remember that what you see on earth isn’t the end. Cling to the fact that through Christ’s death and resurrection, through His gift of the Holy Spirit, and through His blessed Sacraments, we can find peace-true peace- even during the most challenging circumstances.
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