14th Sunday of the Year

Whatever house you enter, say to those living there: ‘Peace be with you’…

The disciples are called to be ambassadors of peace. Jesus’ life and message is fundamentally about peace and reconciliation. Jesus is our Mediator who restores us to the Father. Jesus began His preaching ministry with the great Sermon on the Mount when He declared: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers..!’

The Hebrew word for peace is 'Shalom;' and Jesus died us in the City of peace-'Jeru-salem'.

At Mass we 're-present' Christ's sacrifice of reconciliation on the altar. After the Eucharistic Prayer, attention turns to reconciliation among ourselves.

We pray the Our Father: 'forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us'. We also hear: ‘My peace I give you, my own peace I give you’; [recalling Jesus words: 'a peace the world cannot give, that is my gift to you’]. We hear the words: 'Let us exchange the sign of peace’. We cannot truly worship and be pleasing to God or expect our prayers to be heard unless we are reconciled: ‘if you are at the altar, go be reconciled with your brother first’. At the end of Mass we hear the dismissal: ‘go in peace'.

We are called to be a source of peace and not tension or division. We all strive for peace of mind, heart and spirit, to go about our business in peace. We are all too aware of conflict in the world but maybe it is closer to home in family life or in marital situations of constant bickering and arguing, infidelity, separation, divorce, mutual isolation. Maybe there is a brother, sister or other relative from whom you are estranged. Reconciliation is difficult. Harsh words were spoken, mistakes made, deliberate hurt happened, meanness and anger and fault-finding led to a breaking point. We must ackowledge our faults.

I am always astonished at how hurtful and personal couples can be who are on the verge of separation or have gone their separate ways. Maybe I am an idealist and I hate and run away from conflict and do everything I can for a quiet life, but I wonder how things are allowed to get that far. I often see or hear also about conflict between in-laws and the man or woman who married into a family is often living out a difficult balancing act of divided loyalties between spouse and family.

Realistically there are situations that will linger for a long time and may never come to a satisfactory conclusion any time soon. What we are called to today is to know our role: that is to bring peace in the home and to be a source of unity and peace and if possible, reconciliation. We must mind our speech; we must listen more than we speak. If there is a delicate situation seek counsel from a trusted friend or even a priest. Keep the lines of communication open with the offended or offending party. Pray the Serenity prayer often.

The Gospel is ultimately a message of the restoration of peace - reconciliation of God and man through the Passion, Death and Resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ [think of the line from Christmas carol: ‘God and sinners reconciled’ –from ‘Hark the Herald Angels sing’].

We cannot give what we do not possess, so maybe we should look at ourselves and ask if we are at peace. How often after Mass and after a prayer or a brief visit to a church do we find relief, peace or a resolution to a worry or problem or even just enough strength to cope.

Only when we have attained some level of peace - especially through Reconciliation – can we help reconcile others to God and to one another.

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