Recently I went on a week-long retreat to a Benedictine monastery. My goal for the week was simple—peace. Peace from work, from obligations, from noise, from news, from traffic, from the internet. Peace for time with God, time to listen to the yearnings of my soul, time to indulge my inner (and outer) introvert. Glorious, nourishing, languorous, selfish peace! It was a wonderful time away. It’s not difficult to find peace in a monastery—the challenge is to maintain that peace amid the noise and distractions of the world.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus gives instructions to the 72 disciples who will carry on his work. The goal is to save souls, but the message is peace. In offering peace, they are offering love, forgiveness, and, most importantly, salvation. An opportunity to be united with God in heaven. A chance to recover the peace of Eden. Who wouldn’t accept such peace?
Imagine answering a knock at your front door and being greeted with, “Peace be with you.” Not too bad, huh? Now imagine opening the door and hearing, “Do you want to be saved?” Yikes! Is there a polite way to slam a door in someone’s face? Salvation is a mighty concept. For some of us, it offers a comforting personal relationship with God. We welcome the redemptive influence in our earthly lives and the promise of eternal life with God. For others, the idea of salvation is too big, distant, impersonal, or even too personal.
Jesus knew that the way to people’s minds and hearts was through peace. Sometimes we can offer peace directly, with words of love, hope, and reconciliation. But perhaps a more lasting and profound example of peace is through our demeanor that comes from an inner peace with God and for the world. This kind of peace cannot help but influence others.
God will respond abundantly to our craving for peace. May we be attentive to the need for peace within ourselves. May we seek the harmony with God that comes from inner peace. And may we be wells of peace from which others can experience the love and mercy of God.
Brother Matthew Schaefer, C.PP.S., is in ministry at the Dayton Region Seven parishes, which include Emmanuel, Holy Trinity and St. Joseph