Those two clergymen were doing what Christ wanted them to do- to be heralds of peace and tolerance in their troubled land.
Peace isn’t just the absence of war or hostility- it’s a positive virtue, for openness, friendship, patience, good will, hospitality and kindness. It encourages us to reach out to others and break down the barriers of fear, distrust, injury and prejudice.
Working for Peace means caring for people close to us; those who annoy or disagree with us; and those who hassle us. To take the path of peace is to accept people just as they are, with all their flaws and faults. So, this means the people we need to make peace with aren’t our friends- but our enemies.
Shortly before we receive Communion, Fr will say to us, “The peace of the Lord be with you always.” What a wonderful gift is being offered to us- the peace of Christ, a peace that the world can not give. Then I’ll invite you
to offer each other a sign of peace. This isn’t just a casual hand shake- or a limp shake like shaking hands with a wet lettuce leaf- it must have real meaning for- the hand we offer our neighbour is the same hand we use to receive Jesus in communion.
We come to Mass to receive blessings from the Lord, and if we only take that away from here, our time has been well spent. We must be prepared to give back something of what we received.
The end of Mass isn’t like the end of a football game or a movie where we simply get up and leave. At the end of
Mass, having received the peace of Christ, I have the privilege of sending you out as heralds to pass on that same peace to others.
If we wish to be effective heralds of peace we need three things. Firstly, we must be at peace within ourselves. Secondly, we have to be prepared to share that peace with others and thirdly, the other person must be willing to receive it from us.
“The harvest is great,” said Jesus, so there are a lot of opportunities for sharing peace and making peace. Maybe we won’t always succeed, in making peace because, as they say- it takes two to tango. The great danger is that we’ll allow people to take our peace away, whenever others don’t respond favourably to us and they make us angry, hostile, bitter or unforgiving. How often have you done something nice for someone and they couldn’t even say “thank you” for your kindness.
We have to accept that our peace won’t always be accepted. It may come back to us like the echo of our own voice, but at least we should try. In a world torn apart by anger, hatred and terrorism, we have the challenging vocation to be living signs of Christ’s love that bridge divisions and heal wounds.
Dear brothers and sisters- just ask yourself today, what you have done recently to spread Christ’s peace within your family, at school, at work or in the parish community. If the answer is nothing-maybe you haven’t accepted the peace that has been offered to you during Mass, and remember the kingdom of God is very near to each of you here this morning.
May the Peace of the Lord be with you all during this coming week?