Homily: “On the Peace of Christ”

Offered by Father Matthew Dallman for the Parish of Tazewell County, on the Second Sunday Easter, Year A, 2017.

Our Gospel passage this morning begins where the Gospel left off last Sunday. There, Jesus appeared first to Saint Mary Magdalene, who being weepy and lost, heard her Lord say only a word, and her soul was healed. By hearing, by listening, by obedience in the pure sense, she was able to see, and indeed see so as to run and say to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord.” And so in our moments of feeling lost, our moments of feeling disoriented, our moments when our tears flood the room, we must let God speak to us, we must keep our ears open to His voice, that He might say our name like He said Mary’s, that He might only say a word, that we will be healed, as well.

Our Lord then keeps His promise, as recorded by other Evangelists as well, to come to the eleven disciples later that evening of the Easter day, that first Easter. He comes to them so that they can know that He is resurrected from the tomb, and that they can begin to grapple with what it means for Him to be resurrected, for it is a great mystery that two-thousand years later the Church is still trying to understand. Jesus has spent the last three years working with these disciples, the eleven particularly. He has been training them, giving them intense spiritual direction, guidance in prayer, guidance in life, answering their questions, challenging them and stretching their minds and hearts—a three-year-long course not altogether different than what we today call Adult Study or Adult Formation, “catechesis” being the formal name.

He therefore wants them to know that the class is not over, their relationship with Him not ended, but rather changed and transformed. It was not all for naught, but in fact preparation for their life of ministry, of living-out and using the gifts He gave them, He who always seeks to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ. Indeed, He directed them, taught them, challenged them so that in so doing He would form them to be His Body, and to represent Him in the world—represent Him in glory and truth, to be His Body of love infectious.

And can we not marvel at the first word the Jesus speaks to the disciples when He appears to them. “The first word is, ‘Peace.’ The first sentence is ‘Peace be with you.’ Can we therefore doubt that this word—Peace—is a word soaked in holiness, and these words—Peace be with you—are glory itself, given to us directly from heaven?” Can we doubt that Our Lord, our most loving Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One, did not say this word by accident, but chose in His infinite wisdom for this word—Peace be with you—to be the first utterance from the mouth of He who had been scourged? The first expression of love from He who had been rejected? The first song of glory from He who was nailed to the Cross?

And see how when He spoke this word, sang this holy song of glory—Peace be with you—he immediately showed to the disciples His hands and side. This Jesus, our Jesus, all of creation’s Jesus, was still wounded. He went into His glory taking all of His wounds with Him. The disciples were glad, and can we not share in their gladness? For if Our Lord’s wounds are glorified, sitting at the Right Hand of the Father, then we who died in His death and rise in His resurrection can see our wounds brought to glory, as well. God will glorify our wounds, if we let Him—if we bring our wounds to Him, and allow Him to daub our wounds with the loving unction of His healing presence. Indeed through our wounds, and our process of healing which happens through grace, amid our wounds, we can find peace. Amid our wounds, we too can say with Saint Thomas, “My Lord and my God!”

Brothers and sisters, when we exchange the Peace, we affirm the Resurrection of Our Lord. The exchange of the Peace is a holy moment of love. Jesus needed but four words to bring gladness to the despondent disciples, He needed but four words to turn their hearts to joy. He did not need to say anything else to them but these four words before they all could say, with Saint Mary Magdalene who needed but one word, “Yes, I have seen the Lord.” And so let us exchange the peace of Christ with one another, knowing that it is Christ crucified and resurrected who speaks through us, and it is by that word spoken that the other person can recognize Jesus and in their hearts be glad.