Jesus spoke some very powerful words to his disciples at the Last Supper, “Peace I leave you, my peace I give you. A peace that the world cannot give. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”
The Hebrew word for peace is shalom, a word widely used in the Scriptures. It is so rich in content that the English word ‘peace’ conveys only a fraction of what it means. In general it conveys a sense of wholeness, a condition in which nothing is lacking. The state of perfect well-being which the word signifies belongs only to God. When one possesses peace, one is in perfect communion with God.
Peace is not just the absence of war or dissension. Nor is it simple harmony. True peace is not the same as tranquility. Tranquility is external, whereas peace is essentially internal. Peace is a state of inner calm, and designates right relationship with God and others. Peace in this sense of wholeness of life, which surpasses human understanding, cannot be created by human effort alone. It is a gift from God.
God desires the peace of those who serve him. God speaks peace to his people. In biblical times shalom was an ordinary greeting. But it was more than that. It was an expression of good wishes. Peace is one of the greatest gifts we can give to one another. But we cannot give it if we don’t possess it. Also, we cannot give it to someone who does not want it or is unable to receive it. We can form conditions where peace is able to take root, but we can’t impose it.
Jesus was able to offer peace to his apostles because he had it himself. “My own peace I give to you.” Peace is communion with God and Jesus had perfect communion with God, so he is able to give us this precious gift of peace.
When Jesus appeared to his apostles after his resurrection he did not blame them or scold them for failing him. Instead he broke through closed doors of fear and doubt and spoke the words they desperately needed to hear. He simply said, “Peace be with you.” And by means of these words he turned their despair into hope, and their sadness into joy. As we continue on in the Easter Season, may we open our lives to receive the gift of Jesus’ peace, that being, the wholeness of life God desires for each one of us. The reception of this gift will make a tremendous difference in us and in how we live our life.
– Fr. Dennis, May 26, 2019