Incredible! During the Exchange of Peace at a Sunday Mass, the celebrant noticed a young man actually texting someone. One may speak of a weakening of reverence by those attending Mass these days, but this has to be the boldest expression of this want imaginable. What was this person thinking? Happily, there is a heartwarming and even a liturgically credible reason for this man sending the text message. After Mass, he explained to the priest that whenever he attends Mass, at the time for the sharing of peace he texts a loved one who lives at some distance from him extending the Peace of Christ to her. Apparently, it was an example of the local church reaching out to the Church Universal.
In the New Testament, we are familiar with the scene of Jesus sending his disciples in pairs to neighboring villages in order to spread the Good News of the Kingdom of God. Among the instructions given them by Jesus is to wish peace to the people. Interestingly, Jesus assures his disciples that their peace will either rest on those to whom it was extended or it would return to them. "Peace" is shown to be an almost organic entity, an active presence that either can be bestowed or retained. When we are asked to give the Peace of Christ, just what does that peace mean? Scripture scholars tell us that the word peace conveys the meaning of our understanding of the word salvation. To wish someone the Peace of Christ is to wish them the saving presence of Christ. That definition certainly beats the generally accepted significance of a simple handshake or a friendly nod of the head.
I still find myself taken by the notion of the disciple's word of peace nearly existing; the word left their mouth and flew like a bird, took wing as it were. If the person to whom the wish of peace is unworthy, the peace somehow returns to the giver. There might be an insight to this fascinating image in turning the beginning of the Gospel of John where he speaks of the Word of God becoming flesh – the Incarnation. Jesus – the Word of God – the active, energetic, and salvific presence of God. This Word is seen, heard, and felt by the people and it is the people who must become receptive to this Word. The effect of the power of the Word, the Peace, and the Salvation rests upon the acceptance of the individual.
He who created us without our help, will not save us without our consent.
What happens when we assent in freedom to the indwelling of that salvation that is the Peace of Christ? We are altered in a manner that the worldly cannot grasp. Earthly life and its experiences, its potential, its material attractions, it pleasures, and, indeed, its totality lesson in importance. The person of Christ lives fully in the world, but is not of it. The strenuous pursuit of truly knowing yourself, your sins, and your need of salvation (the Peace of Christ) that is the hallmark of the season of Lent finds its accomplished goal in the grace of Christ's desire to save us. The Truth of Christ does set us free – a freedom that lifts our total being to greater heights and to live secure in the One who has conquered this world. From this foundation, we give to others a sign of what God can do through his creation.
We ask ourselves this question: Am I stuck on a playground or do I wish to fly high? Am I tied to a herd, blindly doing what everyone does, seeking only self-satisfaction, focused on myself, or do I look above to fly high? Don't be scared, dare to have fabulous plans. I encourage you to not be afraid to dream, to have great ideals, to be builders of hope.
Pope Francis I
Lent leads to the Peace of Christ – Salvation. Whenever we speak, or text, this wish of Christ's Peace, let us do so as a person filled with the deep realization of the power and the significance of the word.