Are We an Easter People?
I have a deep and abiding love of color coding. Well, any sort of organization, but especially that which allows me to make use of my colored pen, highlighter, or Sharpie collection. Unsurprisingly, a while back I decided to apply this to my reading of scripture. As I go through the Bible there are certain phrases or ideas I highlight in different colors. It is a way to help me in both my personal prayer and in my pastoral work.
Somewhere in the midst of the last two years I began to highlight “be not afraid” and “peace.” These words now are marked by green and purple in my Bible and I am comforted how often they appear. Frequently angels speak the words (and let’s be honest, I’d need to hear these words if a creature like the angels of scripture appeared). Jesus frequently says these words to his disciples and apostles, particularly in the days of the Passion and Resurrection.
Often these words are spoken by a messenger from God to someone standing in a moment that is filled with deep uncertainties, potential danger, and no little confusion. These words are spoken at the moment when fear is the most natural and understandable response. They are words of comfort, but they do not remove the difficulty.
As we hear Jesus repeat, “peace be with you,” in today’s Gospel I wrestle with this message. I see no peace around me. I see no peace in the world. I see violence, hatred. I see fear and fear-mongering. I see war. I see persecution and prejudice in our nation. I see no peace.
I wrestle with peace. I wrestle with this grace offered by Jesus today. Jesus is offering peace. Not the miracle of world peace spontaneously arriving. It is the peace of God in our hearts, minds, and souls. Yet I wrestle with this. Why should I, how can I, receive peace when the world is spinning apart?
God’s grace - God’s mercy - God’s peace is a gift offered to each of us. It is God’s hope that each of us chooses to receive this grace, mercy, and peace. It is the work of the kingdom to then take that grace, mercy, and peace into our world. You or I may not be able to single handedly bring about world peace. We are, as people who are gifted and graced by God, called to face those times of danger, confusion, uncertainty and respond so as to build the kingdom and bring peace.
In this Easter season, I challenge you to embrace an Easter practice or two. Just as we spent Lent preparing for Easter, preparing through acts of penance let us in turn spend this Easter season in acts of grace and peace. As you move through your life in these fifty days of Easter look for where you can live your giftedness from God. Look for where you can act from peace instead of fear. Look to where God is inviting you to share mercy and love. We are an Easter people, let us live that Easter in our daily lives.