PROPHET ISAIAH prophesied that the Messiah would be the Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6). A great multitude of angels praised God and said, “Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to all in whom he delights” (Lk. 2:14). Jesus Christ told his disciples, “Peace, I leave with you; my own peace I give you, a peace which the world cannot give, this is my gift to you. Do not be troubled; do not be afraid” (Jn. 14:27). After the resurrection on the first day of the week, Jesus stood among his disciples and said to them: “Peace be with you!” (Jn. 20:19). The disciples were filled with joy.  St Paul says, “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7).

Peace is used in the Gospels as a greeting and farewell. Peace appears to be a concrete blessing which the disciples can give to others, but, if the others are unworthy, it returns to the disciples. Virtually, all of the New Testament Letters include “peace” in their opening greetings, usually paired with “grace.” Christ’s work is to bring peace. Christ’s death has accomplished peace between God and humanity.

“Shallom” meaning “Peace be with you,” was the usual greeting of the Jews. The greeting took on a new meaning after Christ’s glorious resurrection. Jesus’ “Shalom” addressed to his disciples assumed a very special significance. His greeting of peace means: “Do not be afraid; It is I; I am alive, I have been vindicated. Truth has prevailed. I have conquered death. I am in control. I have shamed the devil. I have overcome the world. Though you may have to go through trials and tribulations, hold firmly to your faith in me. Yes, even in the midst of storms and whirlwinds of life, do not be afraid, for as you can see in my own case, the agents of darkness shall not have the last laugh. Instead, when tribulations and persecutions begin to happen, stand erect hold your heads high, for your liberation is near at hand.”

St Francis de Sales offers an analogy. He says, picture an ocean at the time of a violent storm. The surface of the water becomes extremely turbulent. If you descend beneath the surface of the water into its depths, the water is calm. Similarly, it is with us during the time of profound suffering. We can experience peace in the midst of suffering if our soul is at peace with God. This proves that the more we live our lives in harmony with the order God has established, the more we experience peace. The more we live in this manner, the more fit instruments we become in promoting peace in the world. St Dominic was an outstanding witness to the peace of the Lord. He was so strongly motivated by the divine love that he displayed the peaceful composure of a spiritual man in the kindness he manifested and by the cheerfulness of his countenance.

St Augustine says, “Peace is the tranquility of order” in which there is no oppression from without, but rather a subordination of all things to the sovereign good which is God. Pope Paul VI states: “The soul of peace is love, which for us believers comes from the love of God and expresses itself in love to men.”

Even a child’s heart yearns for peace with others. Peace in our hearts, families, communities and in the world is the crying need of the day. Selfishness, rivalry, domination and exploitation are the enemies of peace in our homes and in our society. The world offers a semblance of peace under which it hides these enemies that endanger our peace. But the peace Jesus gives, brings joy, harmony, unity, dignity and fellowship.

Our conflict-ridden world groans for peace. Despite our best-intentioned peace efforts, peace eludes us. Human initiatives produce a peace that is fragile, indeed too fragile to endure for long. It is in this conflict- torn, violence- ridden world that Jesus is our peace. The peace Jesus communicates to us is a deep, abiding peace, the result of His triumph over sin and death and the forces of darkness. It is a peace firmly based on justice, love and respect for persons.

Peace for us means a right conscience, not a dictatorship of the powerful. It means an open administration, not a divide and rule, or a bottle-neck type. It means loving our enemies, not despising them. It means something in the insider of a person’s soul, not something external.

Jesus  “Pax vobiscum” is an invitation to all who hunger and re thirsty to come and have their fill in the heavenly banquet made possible by the sacrifice of his body and blood. His peace is an invitation to all who labour and are overburdened to come and have their rest in the bosom of the risen Lord who is meek and humble of heart, whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light. Jesus’ peace is a promise of strength for those who are weak, a pledge of health for the sick, a sacrament of joy for those in sorrow, an instrument of freedom for the down-trodden, and an invitation to those suffering in the evil one to throw in their nets and for a catch since Jesus Christ is risen and has conquered the evil one. Jesus’ peace is a promise of deliverance for all who made themselves slaves of the devil by virtue of their lives of corruption and deceit, greed and avarice, fornication and adultery, hatred and wickedness, vengeance and unforgiveness.

Our Lord offers a peace and a consolation that he alone can confer, a peace that comes from the right ordering of conscience, from justice, charity, love of God and love of neighour. Blessed are those peacemakers who continue to spread that message of peace, for they shall be called the children of God. St Francis of Assisi prays: “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.”

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