Those words seem jarring to me. Particularly this week… We had another school shooting yesterday carried out by an obviously disturbed student – or possibly students – who also had planted bombs and explosives around the school and in the community, so determined they were to impose the greatest destruction of life that they could on their fellow classmates, teachers and staff… The more I listened to the news last night, the more I could feel myself getting angry, tense, and fearful…
Truth be told… it’s not just the outside world that brings us down… that seems to speak words that are completely contrary to these words of Jesus. I think of the family who just lost someone they loved way too young and too tragically… I think of a relative who’s been fighting cancer for over 10 years and being told their remaining options are very limited…. I think of the couple who’ve been married for years but who are struggling to keep faithful to their vows… I think of students struggling to figure out how they can afford next semesters tuition when they have already taken out more loans than they had hoped or anticipated… There’s no shortage of problems, difficulties, struggles that are all around us that if we take a moment to remember them all seems to make hearing those words – “Peace be with you” jarring… or insulting Unreal… too idealistic.
We tend to look at Pentecost, and this Easter season that we conclude today with stained-glass vision. Beautiful, spiritual, transformational events that changed the world and we recall with pride – as this momentous historic moment in the life of the Early Church. I think about the mosaic I saw in St. Louis’s Cathedral of Pentecost where it’s this awesome illustration of the apostles, dressed in their heavenly looking robes, with the Blessed Mother sitting there with a halo and the dove hovering over them with these tongues of fire over each of their heads. It looks so perfect. It looks so amazing. It looks like everything they could’ve wanted or imagined has been fulfilled instantly and completely. And it looks so removed from our experience.
Judas was not the only one… there are other instances throughout the gospels where we hear of people who walked away from Jesus: The rich young man for one who after asking Jesus what more could he do, found Jesus’ call to give up all that mattered in the world and devote himself solely to Jesus too much for him to do. The group of disciples who first heard Jesus’ teaching on the Eucharist that they must eat his flesh and drink his blood – and couldn’t or wouldn’t hear these words – they walked away as well.
That’s what stays with me today. We too have to choose to be men and women of Peace – We too have to choose to let the Holy Spirit into our lives and our decisions: