3rd Sunday of Easter
A famous musician and singer said, “The world is like a symphony orchestra.” “God is the Conductor of that orchestra.” “When people turn to him for direction, there is harmony among them.” “But when they turn away, then there is trouble, confusion, and strife.”
The disciples of Jesus turned away from him – they deserted him – That is why today’s gospel reading pictures them a bunch of people who are greatly troubled and confused. And it is to these disciples that Jesus comes and brings them peace. By greeting them “Peace be with you,” Jesus seems to be telling them: “You are safe… You are safe.”
The Lord’s greeting to his disciples is very significant – particularly in our understanding of the relevance of Easter in our lives. The risen Christ greets them: “Peace be with you.” After greeting them, Jesus asks, “Why are you troubled?” The peace that the risen Lord brings them is much needed precisely because they are troubled.
According to Raymond Brown, a bible scholar, the greeting of the Lord is not a wish; it is a statement of fact. The translation should not be, “Peace be with you.” The more appropriate translation should be, “Peace to you.”
Jesus’ piercing question to his disciples in today’s gospel reading is also addressed to us: “Why are you troubled?” We have to be humble enough to say: “Lord, we are troubled, we are confused, because we have turned away from you.” “I have turned away from your presence and have focused my life on myself.” “I have turned away from your will and have followed my own wants and plans.” “I have turned away from your goodness and providence and have given myself in to materialism.” “And because I have turned away from you, I am troubled… I am confused… I do not have peace… I need your peace.”
It is in this kind of situation that we need to hear the Lord telling us: “I don’t want you to live in fear and shame. I don’t want you to wallow in your sinfulness. Come out of that… I am freeing you from that prison… Here I am, I come to bring you peace and salvation.” The message of the risen Lord to us is: “Peace to you.” And he assures us: “You are safe.” Do we really believe this? Do we hold on to his assurance?
We have a lot of questions in our minds that, knowingly, or unknowingly, are causing apprehension, worry, and anxiety in us – thus, depriving us of peace. These are “fearful questions” about our personal life, our loved ones, and so many issues – and they point to the uncertainty of the future. “What if my plans and dreams do not materialize and I lose my security for the future?” “What if I lose my job? What if I do not succeed in my career? What if my business fails and I lose everything?” “What if the significant persons in my life betray me, reject me, or abandon me?” “What if my illness gets worse and I only have a short time to live?”
Our faith tells us that genuine peace is found in resting in the wisdom of the One who holds all of our “what-ifs” in his loving hands. Isaiah captures this well with these comforting words: “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3) Catholic New American Bible has this translation: “With firm purpose you maintain peace; in peace, because of our trust in you.”
According to Paul David Tripp, genuine, lasting peace “is not to be found in picking apart your life until you have understood all of the components.” You will never understand it all because you are not God. So, peace is found only in trust in God who is in control of all the things that tend to rob us our peace. God knows and he understands everything. He is in control of what appears to be chaos. He is never surprised, he is never confused. He never worries or loses a night’s sleep. He never walks off the job to take a rest. He never gets so busy with one thing that he neglects another. And he never plays favorites.
Trip has this sound advice worth reflecting on: “You need to remind yourself again and again of God’s loving control, not because that will immediately make your life make sense, but because it will give you rest and peace in those moments that all of us face at one time or another: when life does not seem to make any sense.”
Let us open our hearts to receive the peace of the risen Lord. Peace comes from realizing that we are loved. Peace comes from knowing and believing that Christ died and rose for us. Peace comes from finding our refuge in God.