12 Apr 2012

Peace be with you

Today's Gospel takes up immediately after the account of the appearance of the Risen Christ to the disciples travelling to Emmaus. Luke's Gospel tells us that the disciples are recounting their meeting with Jesus and how they recognised Him at the breaking of the bread when Jesus Himself comes to stand among them. The first words of Jesus in this scene are: "Peace be with you!" (Lk 24:36).

In John's Gospel Jesus promised His disciples: "Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, a peace which the world cannot give, this is my gift to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid" (Jn 14:27). This assurance comes immediately after promising to send the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete (cf. Jn 14:16-26). Peace is a fruit of the Holy Spirit and a characteristic of the Kingdom of God.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that peace is "not merely the absence of war" (CCC 2304). Earthly peace is the "image and fruit of the peace of Christ, the messianic 'Prince of Peace'" (CCC 2305; cf. Is 9:5). The Risen Christ offers us both the gift of peace and the challenge to be bearers of that peace in the world.

Let us respond to that challenge expressed in the words of Pope Benedict XVI's message for World Day of Peace 2012:

"The Church has confidence in you, follows you, encourages you and wishes to offer you the most precious gift she has: the opportunity to raise your eyes to God, to encounter Jesus Christ, who is himself justice and peace.

All you men and women throughout the world, who take to heart the cause of peace: peace is not a blessing already attained, but rather a goal to which each and all of us must aspire. Let us look with greater hope to the future; let us encourage one another on our journey; let us work together to give our world a more humane and fraternal face; and let us feel a common responsibility towards present and future generations, especially in the task of training them to be people of peace and builders of peace. With these thoughts I offer my reflections and I appeal to everyone: let us pool our spiritual, moral and material resources for the great goal of “educating young people in justice and peace”.

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