Sixth Sunday of Easter
May 1, 2016
While I was living in Israel, it didn’t take long to adjust to greeting and taking leave of people with the same simple, beautiful, almost poetic word: Shalom!
It’s a little like exhaling. Lifegiving breath comes out of a person when they speak that gift…Shalom…to another. And gift it is. The literal translation is “peace.” What a very thoughtful gift. I often wondered, however, if a shopkeeper, bus driver, waiter, or passing stranger actually stopped to think that when speaking that word…Shalom…they were giving a gift…the gift of their lifegiving breath…and the hope that the recipient of the greeting enjoys a peaceful encounter with the giver and a peaceful day after parting. It seems to roll off the lips of folks so easily and casually that, by some, it might have been de-valued to the level of Hi! Bye! Morning! Nite! – low-energy ways we verbally punctuate our encounters with other people…small, colorless words that do not require “an exhale.” No lifegiving breath is necessary to say: “Nice Day!” No gift is given. No hope is inspired.
Fortunately, our God does not give as the world gives. For example, God greeted all creation with another Word that involves exhaling…Jesus! That Word took flesh. With that Divine exhale, God sent the world the gift of new hope that the just will enjoy everlasting life…and eternal Shalom!
But, even as God gives differently than we… with Divine intention…generously and purposefully…with a plan…we “receive” in an imperfect way. We do not always comprehend, appreciate, or even accept the priceless Gift of Shalom that The Father has breathed onto creation through The Son. Just this past week, for example, gunfire broke out at a high school prom in our country’s midwesttry, a Canadian hostage was brutally murdered in the overwhelmingly Catholic Philippines by fundamental extremists, and North Korea, once again, rejected Shalom! by firing a missile from a submarine. Where is Christ’s Peace in all of this?
And so, through the Gift of the Holy Spirit, we are reminded that, ultimately, God is in control. God has a plan imaged in our Second Reading. At the appointed time, the Glory of God will dispel all darkness that makes a vain effort to disturb Shalom! Meanwhile, while we wait for the day of fulfillment of the Divine plan…the just need only keep free of those things which deceive the foolish into thinking that there is anyone, or anything greater than God.
So Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid…Shalom!