From a recent Catholic Weekly column
I’m signing school diaries, checking spelling, opening bills, calling kids to come back and finish their homework, telling other kids to stop running through the house and, “No you can’t have another biscuit because it’s nearly dinnertime”, and I have to wonder if, when Jesus said, “Peace be with you, my peace I give to you” was that just meant for those 11 apostles hiding in the cenacle or really for all of us?
If it was for the whole Church, and everyone making up the Church, then it was for me too, but I’m not feeling it.
Where’s my peace? I’m thinking either there is a serious error in the Bible and 2000+ years of tradition or I’m doing something wrong, and since the latter is the much more elegant explanation I’ve got to ask myself what am I doing so wrong?
In a homily for Pentecost Sunday a couple of years ago Pope Emeritus Benedict once spoke of humankind’s tendency to “continually close our doors; we continually want to feel secure and do not want to be disturbed by others and by God. And so, we can continually implore the Lord just for this, that he come to us, overcoming our closure, to bring us his greeting: ‘Peace be with you’.”
He then went on to describe this greeting after the resurrection, “Peace be with you” as a bridge between heaven and earth by which we reach both Christ and our neighbour. “On this bridge, always together with him, we too must reach our neighbour, reach the one who needs us,” he said.
In lowering ourselves to reach our neighbour, in coming out of ourselves because of love, we rise up with Christ to him and God, he concluded.
In very simple terms I take that to mean that in the everyday of marriage and raising a bunch of young children in one of the busiest and most expensive cities of the world, I can only reasonably expect to feel Christ’s peace under three conditions. They are as follows:
1) I consciously remain in his presence.
2) I interact with the people who need me with an attitude of service, beginning with the closest and most obvious, my husband and children.
3) I come out of myself because of love, which in part means leaving the security of my own ideas of how things should be and what they should look like, and the desire to impose my own wishes onto others, particularly the people I’m called to serve every day.
No wonder I often don’t feel peaceful when I often operate in my default mode which doesn’t meet any of those conditions.
I can just imagine how I look from Our Lord’s point of view on those stressful weekday afternoons.
I’m saying, “God, come on, do something here, this sucks”, and he’s saying, “Woman I’m trying, but you aren’t doing anything to help me, in fact you’re actively blocking me”.
If by ‘peace’ I’m attached to the peace that the world can only sometimes give, and even then not for long – a quiet home, an undisturbed schedule, an abundance of time and money and interesting opportunities – then that’s all I’m ever going to get.
It would be truly tragic to finally one day get all of those things once my children have grown and believe that they are the pinnacle of success and self-worth in life.
Tragic if in getting to that point I missed the countless opportunities to cross the bridge of peace between heaven and earth which present themselves to me right now.