Peace be With You

04-18-2021From the Pastor's DeskMsgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

Separation! Insults! Negativity! Take the first letter of those three words and we have SIN. Sin is both personal and communal. As we listen to all three readings at Mass today, we see that Jesus came to take away the power of sin by facing it head on and enduring its power as He was crucified. His Resurrection clearly shows His power over sin, a power He very much wants to share with us personally and communally. Even though the author of life was put to death the power of sin could not and did not prevail over Him. His power over sin is the love that flows constantly and unrelentingly from His Sacred Heart.

Sin first and foremost separates us from God, one another, and ourselves. When we sin were are separated from and deprive ourselves of inner peace. As hard as we try, we cannot erase the guilt from our sins for ourselves or by ourselves. We expend far too much energy trying to suppress our guilt and the tension accompanying it as well as trying to hide our sinfulness from others. Jesus refused to let sin separate His disciples from Him. In spite of Peter’s three denials and the abandonment by all of the others except St. John, Jesus came back to them when He rose, as we see in today’s Gospel (Luke 24:35-48). His greeting was: “Peace be with you!” Peace comes from a heart of hopeful, reconciling love. All the fears of His disciples were vanquished by those simple four words Those are words we hear every time we confess our sins in the Sacrament of Penance. The actual words of absolution are preceded by those introductory words of prayer: “Through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace.” Peace comes from a heart that wants to reconcile, not a heart that wants retribution, satisfaction, or revenge. Those are the furthest things from the heart of Jesus. Peace comes from a heart that is grateful to love and enkindles love. Once we are forgiven, joy and gratitude replace tension, guilt, and shame.

Sin insults. It is an insult to God when we consciously refuse to live in the very image in which we have been created, His image and likeness. Sin is an insult to ourselves personally because we reject the ability and desire we have to love. The insult is taken away by seeking forgiveness. We cannot find peace in God’s forgiveness unless we seek to be reconciled with one another.

Sin is negative. We live in a world where negative personal and public criticism are broadcast every day in countless ways through the media and our own personal programs on the internet. Gossip stirs the pot. Negativity is a roadblock to peace with God, ourselves, and one another.

Yes, we must avoid sin, but that will not happen if that is all we are seeking to do. Jesus did not rise and avoid His disciples because He might get mad at them. He came back to assure them of His love. The more we seek to love, do good, and be positive, generous, and helpful in our everyday lives, the more our focus rises far above avoiding sin. Sin is not even a second thought when our minds and hearts are nourished, inspired, and energized by the love of Jesus. What He says to His disciples in today’s Gospel He says to each one of us: “Peace be with you!” May that peace fill our hearts to the point where our focus is not avoiding sin but loving one another as Jesus loves us.

I offer the responsorial Psalm (Psalm 4) from today’s Mass for your prayerful reflection.

R. Lord, let your face shine on us.
When I call, answer me, O my just God, you who relieve me when I am in distress; have pity on me, and hear my prayer!

R. Lord, let your face shine on us.
Know that the LORD does wonders for his faithful one, the LORD will hear me when I call upon him.

R. Lord, let your face shine on us.
O LORD, let the light of your countenance shine upon us! You put gladness into my heart.

R. Lord, let your face shine on us.
As soon as I lie down, I fall peacefully asleep, for you alone, O LORD, bring security to my dwelling.

R. Lord, let your face shine on us.