Acts of the Apostles 3: 13-15, 17-19 1 John 2: 1-5a Luke 24: 35-48
The various accounts of the experiences that the disciples had of Jesus following his resurrection differ according to the particular Gospel writer and the audience which is being addressed. That would be expected. Two of them, however, that is St. John and St. Luke -whose styles are very different, and who are addressing different audiences – want it to be known that when Jesus appeared to the disciples, he addressed them with the words “Peace be with you.”
We have heard this, time and again, over the years. As I thought about it this year, I realized that it seemed unusual that this fact is mentioned so definitely. After all, “Peace” as in the words, “shalom” or “salaam” is a rather standard term of greeting – along the lines of a simple “Hello.” The mention of this by the Gospel writers, as well as the repetition of this by them, suggested a basis for my thought that there must be some deeper meaning or purpose.
The Resurrection of Jesus, and his defeat of the effects of death, particularly the cruel death by execution on the cross, is a call to us, an announcement to us of the reconciliation that has been achieved. It is the means of a genuine restoration of the loving relationship that is to exist with our creator God. By extension this reconciliation is to be achieved by us with all of creation. It is, indeed, to be “peace.”
Listening carefully to Peter and his teaching as it is recorded and as we have heard today, we hear him recognize that the message of God that had ben given beforehand had been rejected. It was self-interest and ignorance that had led to the execution of Jesus, rather than a sincere appreciation of the efforts of God in achieving a covenant relationship with the Chosen People.
By being raised from the dead, by overcoming the effects of mankind’s rejection of God that resulted in death, those efforts of God had been brought to fulfillment. God’s purpose had been achieved. This is what is presented to us by true faith in the Resurrection. It is through faith in the power and the impact of the Resurrection that true peace can be achieved. It is this peace that is central to the revelation of and the reflection of God that we are to work to accomplish in our lives. If, indeed, we profess to know Christ and his Gospel, his Good News, and if we profess to live that belief in our lives, then the love of God is perfected in us.
The resurrection is a call to us to seek out and to work to be at peace in ourselves and with one another. It is call to do whatever we can in our interaction with one another to be at peace and to work for peace with one another. It is a call to work sincerely to overcome all obstacles to such true peace. It is a call to make efforts to reflect genuinely love and respect for one another.
Jesus addressed his disciples after his resurrection from the dead with “Peace be with you.” It was not just a simple greeting. It was a commission to them and to us. We are to be at peace. We are to make true peace a reality in our lives. We are to make true peace a reality in the world we experience day after day, and in the world at large. We are to recognize that whatever disrupts the efforts to achieve peace is contrary to message of the Resurrection, the message of the Gospel, the message of what we believe.
We declare, though our baptism, that we are one with Jesus Christ. We are one with him in his death and in his Resurrection, and in all that is meant by this. So it is that we are to announce and to live true peace in our lives. It is the experience of “peace” that works to unite rather than to divide. It is the experience of peace that reflects the presence in us and through us of our good and gracious God.