There is a great difference between having peace of mind and getting a piece of someone’s mind. We use the expression, “I am going to give that person a piece of my mind,” when we are angry, frustrated, or disgusted. While we might succeed in blowing off steam there is no guarantee our ranting and raving will bring a peaceful resolution. In the Gospel for today’s Mass (John 20:19-31) we see the Risen Jesus appearing once again to His disciples. These are the ones other than St. John who either denied Him or abandoned Him when He was arrested and crucified. As He miraculously came into their presence His words of greeting were, “Peace be with you.” This passage continues: “When He had said this He showed them His hand and His side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.” How much clearer could His love for them be in spite of their fearful abandonment of Him. Their fears, weaknesses, and confusion did not lessen or weaken Jesus’ love for them. He did not give them a piece of His mind, but the love in His heart. In fact the Gospel continues with an expression not only of love, but of faith and hope in them to continue His work among us: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” . . . “And when He had said this He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.’” Jesus’ heartfelt love for them opened their hearts to speak and act in His name.
As this Gospel continues we see the skepticism and doubt of St. Thomas who was not at the first appearance: “Unless I see the mark of the nails in His hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” Yet once again we see the indomitable love of Jesus as He appeared a second time and St. Thomas was there: “Peace be with you!” He then invited St. Thomas to put his fingers into the nail marks. This passage does not say whether or not he actually touched Jesus, but St. Thomas was convinced of Jesus’ presence and love as He said, “My Lord and my God.” How powerful the words of Jesus to raise up His followers “Peace be with you!”
Peace be with you! Where do we hear these words of Jesus? Where do we speak them? Where do we experience the peace of Jesus? Jesus came to be our Savior and put His entire being, His heart, soul, mind, and strength into doing just that. How can we hear and take these words to heart? The time and place to encounter Him in this way is not limited by Him, it is only limited by our lack time spent in quiet prayer and our wandering, distracted minds at Mass. Jesus sees into the very depths of our being not out of demand for a response to Him, but out of unconditional love for us. Jesus simply and clearly wants to fill us with the hope, peace, and joy that comes only from our complete and total faith in Him.
Can each of us say, “I hear your words of love and I am uplifted by your concern for me and your presence to me?” Our gratitude is far more than a simple “Thank you.” Our gratitude puts us on the road to peace when we say, “Thank you Jesus for you.” When we list the blessings we have the simplest thing we can say and do is to say thank you Jesus.
The peace of Jesus does not make everything all right in the world. It does not protect us from challenges and difficulties but gives us the wisdom, insight, courage and strength to face them and not lose heart. The peace in His heart of love did not leave even in the trying three hours on the cross. We can never stop repeating and reminding ourselves that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. That illumines the path of life everyday. How blessed we are to have a God who never gives us a piece of His mind but the love in His sacred heart.
I offer Psalm 27 for your prayerful reflection.
The Lord is my light and my help; whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
before whom shall I shrink? When evildoers draw near to devour my flesh, it is they, my enemies and foes, who stumble and fall. Though an army encamp against me my heart would not fear.
Though war break out against me even then would I trust. There is one thing I ask of the Lord, for this I long,
to live in the house of the Lord, all the days of my life, to savor the sweetness of the Lord, to behold his temple. For there he keeps me safe in his tent in the day of evil.
He hides me in the shelter of his tent,
on a rock he sets me safe. And now my head shall be raised above my foes who surround me, and I shall offer within his tent a sacrifice of joy. I will sing and make music for the Lord.