Monday, April 6, 2015

Jesus said, "Peace be with you!" (Easter night & Divine Mercy Sunday)

When I pray the Rosary during this first week of Easter, I can never get past the first mystery - Jesus' Resurrection.  Laying in bed and praying last night, I was seized by Jesus' first words when He appeared to the disciples that first evening, "Peace be with you!" (Lk.24:36; Jn.20:19).

They are exquisite.  At the end of the day, my head is often buzzing with the things I didn't get done today - the things hanging over it that need to be accomplished tomorrow.  And these words of Jesus reminded me that right then, in that moment, the Lord wanted me to let go and rest.  It was time to enjoy Him and then drift off to sleep, "do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own" (Mt. 6:34).

But there was/is a much deeper meaning to Jesus' "Peace be with you!"  The Lord means that we are at peace with God.  Our sins?  On the Cross, He offered the Father all of the love and obedience our sins denied Him.  And now, in Jesus, we are at peace with God.  Our shame has been redeemed.  We can rest in the arms of a Father Who loves us, free of embarrassment over our pasts.  That is the gift that Baptism gave us - peace with God, the peace of children.  

And if we have sinned greatly after Baptism?  The Sacrament of Reconciliation restores that peace.  Listen to Jesus' very next words to the Apostles, "Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’  And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven’” (Jn. 20:21-23).

We will hear those verses from John's Gospel again this Sunday, on what the Church calls Divine Mercy Sunday (more on that here). If you need to, visit the Sacrament of Reconciliation this weekend and celebrate Christ's mercy, the true and lasting source of peace.