The Peace of Christ
The Peace of Christ

The Peace of Christ

Second Sunday of Easter. Fr Robert Gay preaches on the up-building and unifying effects of Christ’s peace.

As we close the octave of Easter today, we get a glimpse into the world of the early Church given by the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles. With this short but powerful reading, we see a uniting of the fact of the Resurrection with the effects of the grace of the Resurrection. That is to say, we get a glimpse of what it meant for the Church in its earliest days to live as an Easter people.

We can see that the event of the Resurrection and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on the Church has pulled together the believers as a group. This has not happened just because they are together in the same place, but because they are of one heart and one soul. Their being together is more than a fact about space and time – it is something which is true about them at a much deeper level. The individual pursuit and concern that often marks life – and that we saw very clearly in the the passion narratives – has been replaced by something altogether more powerful, namely a shared life in common marked by a profound faith and a common mission and purpose. The power of the testimony of the apostles and the respect that they held will no doubt have been helped by this unity in every aspect of life from the material to the spiritual. It is a testament to the Resurrection and the power of the Holy Spirit that a group which was once dispersed and scattered is now together in such a profound way.

In the Gospel we hear Jesus twice use the greeting ‘peace be with you’, first when he appears in the room where the disciples were gathered, and again when they are gathered eight days later. It probably would have been common enough for Jews to greet each other in such a way. However, when this greeting comes from the mouth of the Risen Lord, we realise that there is something more at work here than a normal greeting. It is in fact Jesus’s offer of peace as his gift. Because of the Resurrection, he has triumphed over the power of sin and death, and that triumph brings with it the grace to live a different kind of life for those who wish to share in it – a life that would not be possible without this gift. And it is this kind of life that brings together the early Church in a unity of heart and soul.

The peace of Christ is a gift offered to each of us as individuals by Christ. It is has great power in the lives of us as individual believers, because it meets a deep need in each of us. But its greatest power is manifested when we see how this gift builds us up not just as individuals, but as individuals in communion with one another as disciples of Christ. And that power then manifests itself again in a special way to those who don’t believe – that they can see how the resurrection builds the lives of us as individuals, and builds unity and communion amongst individuals. When the peace of Christ manifests itself in our lives, it is a sign to others of the truth of the message of the Gospel.

To be an Easter people like those early Christians in the Acts of the Apostles, we need to do much more than allow the Easter alleluia to sound from our lips in this Easter season. It requires that we receive of the gift of Christ’s peace, and therefore live lives as individuals and with each other in the Church which are marked by the peace that he brings. It is to make our whole lives, our whole being proclaim that alleluia.

Readings: Acts 4:32-35 | 1 John 5:1-6 | John 20:19-31

Image: the Church praying in the Upper Room – stained glass detail from the Basilique de Sacré Couer in Paray-le-Monial, photographed by Fr Lawrence Lew OP

Fr Robert Gay is Bursar and Assistant Novice Master in the Dominican Priory in Milan.

Comments (1)

  • Catherine

    Thank you Father Robert Gay for these encouraging powerful truths. In a world full of troubles peace is so very much needed for us all.


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