Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Tuesday in the 5th Week of Easter
Peace in Reverse?

Readings: Acts 14:19-28; Psalm 145:10-11, 12-13ab, 21; John 14:27-31a

A peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you…

It often seems that the world approaches peace in much the same way that it does the many other things that it seeks, things like knowledge and development and democracy. The strategy, if there is one, is simply to marshal as many resources as possible and to forge relentlessly onwards with as much speed and acceleration as one can manage. The situation in Iraq comes spontaneously to mind. And isn’t this also the way in which, as individuals, we often seek peace in our own lives? Don’t we try to leave behind the unpleasantness of the past – and even of the present – and run ever more quickly towards the future in a kind of self-induced blissful forgetting? But even if we do manage to achieve an uneasy stillness, we know from experience that this is often simply the calm before an even bigger storm. Even if all the messiness seems to have disappeared from plain sight, don’t we have the nagging suspicion that it has only been swept under the carpet? And isn’t it true that all the things we try so hard to run away from simply accumulate to form a distinct bulge on the floor of our lives over which we continually trip and stumble even as we try our hardest to ignore it?

How then to dispose ourselves to receive this peace that is the gift of the crucified and risen Lord? The actions of Paul and Barnabas in the first reading may offer us a symbolic indication of what is required. The striking thing about the reading is the direction in which people seem to be moving. When Paul is stoned and left for dead, we are told that he stood up and went back to the town, the very place where people had tried to kill him. After both Paul and Barnabas have successfully completed their mission, we are told that they went back through Lystra and Iconium to Antioch where they gave an account of all that God had done with them to the very community that had commissioned them. Even as Paul and Barnabas move relentlessly onward to proclaim the good news, they also have the occasion to go back, to retrace their steps. In failure and in success alike, they make time to go back so that they can better move ahead.

Isn’t this something we need to learn as well, we who take justifiable pride in the speed at which we have now learnt to move ahead? Don’t we need also to learn to make time and space, if only in our imaginations and our prayer, to go back, to retrace our steps, to get reconnected with ourselves, with our communities and with our God? And so to receive the peace that Christ wishes to bequeath to us and through us to others?

How might we better receive Christ’s peace today?

1 comment:

  1. Interesting ... to 'go back', to 'retrace our steps' ...

    There is something very powerful in 'going back', in recalling the past, not in a nostalgic way, not to relive the hurts or ecstacies, but to plumb the depths of God's working in the events and people there. Isn't this what we do at every Mass? "Do this in memory of me". That 'memory' is not a mere recall of the historical events of the first Easter Triduum, but a multi-dimensional instantiation of the form, substance, spirit and mission of the God-man Jesus. And peace flows from the Eucharist made real for us at every Mass through the words and actions of the priest, culminating in the sharing of that same peace among all the faithful.

    Go (back) in the peace of Christ.