“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” — 1 Corinthians 1:2
The priest’s opening greeting at Mass, and the words of Jesus after his Resurrection from the dead to his disciples, are words for us today. Our world has never been a settled place, one without conflict. Rather, we hope and work for peace in our hearts first, then within our families and then spreading to our neighborhoods, cities, state and beyond. The ripple effect is the expression of our love for our brothers and sisters in need and brings peace.
|Bishop Paul Sirba
Fiat Voluntas Tua
Peace has a quite human appeal. We should strive to be men and women who live in peace with one another. We should be men and women of grace and peace. That means we should not be forever keeping an account of another’s faults or flaws. We should not be thinking forever of unsettled accounts or allowing the poison of resentment to fester within us. It is not right for us to store something in our memories to be brought up at the time when we want it to have the most negative effect. We are people of reconciliation and grace, capable of getting over things and offering a fresh start.
The human desire for peace opens us to the divine meaning.
We have been forgiven by our Savior Jesus Christ. God is the only one with the right to demand an exact balance on our account because of our sins, but he chooses to offer us mercy and forgiveness. Jesus has taken upon himself our sins and offenses and with a superabundant redemption has bought us back.
“Peace be with you.” — John 20:19
The greeting of the bishop at the beginning of Mass highlights this great fruit of the Holy Spirit, peace. The role of the bishop and the priest is to call the people again and again into Christ’s peace. We can and should strive for peace in our world, but we will never attain true and lasting peace without Jesus Christ. Our world has tried and continually failed. We absolutely need God’s grace to do it!
The early Christians were, from a human point of view, powerless within the Roman Empire. No one asked fledgling Christians to help make policy decisions. Christians prayed for the emperor and all those in authority and began with the work of living their Christianity to the full. The revolution began with conversion of hearts to Jesus. Christian values gave rise to the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy being lived and the transformation of culture, law, health care, the arts and education.
The early Church and the Church of today is the same Body of Christ: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
The Church understood from the beginning that the Eucharistic mystery underlies the expression of peace. “Peace” actually became one of the names for the Eucharistic sacrament. Without the Eucharist we will not have peace. If we truly desire peace, we will be at Mass every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation. To willfully miss our Sunday opportunity will kill the life of Jesus in our souls and contribute to conflict in our world, because our souls will not be at peace. We cannot have a spiritual life without the love of Jesus.
As we celebrate the great 50 days of the Easter Season, we give thanks to God for His peace.
God does in fact come to meet us. Jesus has set us free. Although we owe him a debt we cannot pay, he has paid the price. Our Lord has overcome all the obstacles we face, he takes us in his arms and extends his mercy to us. With Jesus, the Risen Lord, peace comes to be.
Bishop Paul D. Sirba is the ninth bishop of Duluth.