CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 18 March 2017

Print Version    Email to Friend
Peace be with you

In the account of Pentecost from the Gospel according to St. John, Jesus enters the locked room where the disciples were hiding in fear and greets them with the words, “Peace be with you.”
 
During the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, the Chinese character for peace (和) was also shown three times during the description of the invention of the printing press.
 
In Chinese, the character has three meanings. When used as a conjunction, it could be translated into English as “You and I,” meaning that you and I are equal.
 
As a verb, it takes on the meaning of reconciliation or forgiveness, and so becomes a human action, implying that we must actually do something, in the process of making peace.
 
The first two meanings are both essential components of our understanding of peace and so are essential to understanding the meaning of the word peace when used as a noun.
 
Without equality and reconciliation we cannot have peace on this earth. This may also be the reason why Jesus greets the disciples three times, but on the third occasion instead of using the words, “Peace be with you,” he says, “Receive the Holy Spirit,” for it is in the area of human relationships that the Holy Spirit operates.
 
It is important to remember that he uttered these words to people who were terrified for their lives, so to understand the full impact of his words, we need to ask what the word, peace, means to people who are constantly experiencing violence.
 
It is difficult for people to understand peace when the reality of their life experience is not peaceful, where outside factors are constantly threatening their well being or even their very lives.
 
In the reading from St. Paul, he says, “As a body is one, though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also with Christ.”
 
This reminds us that people are not the only ones in the world who suffer from violence, but the entire universe is suffering from violence. Just as when we meet people who are living in violent situations we are at least called to listen with an attentive ear, we are called to listen to the experience of the universe and challenged to bring peace to the entire body.
 
Each one of us has a special gift to bring to peace making, and for peace to become a reality, it is essential for each one of those gifts to be used in the entire process of building peace in our world.
 
Both the oppressor and the oppressed have to participate equally in the process of helping to transform each other and the resurrected Jesus is the ultimate symbol of transformation.
 
The director of the opening ceremony at the Olympics, Zhang Yimou, was implying that without you and me both becoming 
involved in the process of peace and reconciliation, it will never happen.
 
Jesus’ final words at Pentecost, “Whose sins you forgive they are forgiven and whose sins you retain they are retained” are a stark reminder that we are all responsible for peace in our world.