Homily for the 2nd Sunday of Easter
“Peace be with you…” When we hear this statement automatically we want to respond with, “and with your Spirit.” However, these are the same words… the first words that Jesus speaks to his fearful disciples and us today. In the Gospel, we heard how the disciples are hidden in a room fearful of the authorities. Why? Were they second guessing their original call to follow Jesus? After all… look how that ended for him! Or was it the idea of not knowing if they too would be the next to be crucified? Amidst their anxiety Jesus comes and ‘stood in their midst’… he came and stood in the midst of their doubts, their questioning and their fears.
And what does he say to them: “Peace be with you…” He doesn’t say “hey… I’m back…! Or Guess who? Nor did he say, “I told you so… or thanks a lot for your lack of support when I needed you.” He says nothing like that. Rather he says: “peace be with you…” Which by the way is our diocesan motto: Peace be with you or 2 Latin words, “Pax Vobis.” If you go into the chancery office, the first thing you see, outside on the wall is this beautiful crest, with Pax Vobis: ‘Peace be with you.’ I don’t know about you, but in our current climate, many times I find difficult to find peace, let alone to embrace it. Changes in society, our church, covid 19, stress, and anxiety that we live in, how can we know ‘real peace’? And yet If we really think about this, we are no different that those early followers. Like them, we too are locked behind our closed doors: the locked doors of going out only when we really have to, and the locked doors of these masks. The fear of not getting our vaccines in time.
But again, in the fear and isolation, Jesus begins with peace and this should be our starting place as well. How can we be followers of Jesus unless we have peaceful hearts? Although it is a given and as simple as that sounds… it’s not easy. We’re probably asking ourselves, how do we get those peaceful hearts after all the stuff that we’ve been through? What I do when my heart is not peaceful, I exercise; search for positive people to influence our lives, I spend time in prayer…giving everything to God.
If our hearts are bogged down with anger, bitterness or anxiety, or with fear, how can we share the gospel with others if our hearts are not at peace? How can we have peaceful hearts when we’re fearful of a violent world filled with hate, disease, civil unrest, extremism on so many different levels? For sure, this is a tall order, to live in peace so that we can live and proclaim the risen Lord in word and actions, we are not expected to carry the burden alone. The followers of Jesus didn’t carry these burdens alone. Look what happened in that Gospel: “Breathing on them, Jesus said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” In other words, with God’s life and love we become more than we were before. No doubt another reason why we chose the name Holy Spirit Parish? Or is it that the Holy Spirit chose us for this title? God knows that we can be so much more. When we are united in the Spirit of God, the anxious becomes peaceful; the doubting becomes faithful; and the one who has been wronged finds the power to forgive. So, too, may it be for us as we journey toward the great solemnity of Pentecost (our feast day) and try to live more deeply into the mystery of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and the peace that only he can offer us. Amen