"On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them "Peace be with you." When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you." (JN20:19-21)
Peace. Jesus came to the apostles, who were hiding from the people in power who had crucified Jesus, and he tells them there is peace to be had. He shows them the fatal wounds present on his living body and again tells them they are to have peace. Amazing.
In reading this, I realized I'm not even sure what peace is. Turn on the news and there is little peace to be found in the day's stories. I think of the people I know and some of the struggles that they face and I know that they long for peace in their lives. I go over my laundry list of worries and know that I too often come up short when it comes to having peace. But Jesus tells me that peace is not only possible, it's his gift to us.
The dictionary's first meaning is "Freedom from disturbance: quiet and tranquility." The second; " Freedom from or the cessation of war and violence." Wars and violence are most often situations beyond our control. They are something we are thrust into. Even soldiers who volunteer to go to war do so in the hopes of bringing good from evil, not for the sake of war itself. But freedom from disturbance, quiet tranquility in our personal livesthat is possible through faith.
Lately I've been reading the Gospel of John. In his sixth chapter, he tells the story of how after the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, the disciples went ahead in a small boat across the sea to Capernaum. "The sea was stirred up because a strong wind was blowing." They were three or four miles out when they saw Jesus walking across the violent sea and coming toward them. Understandably, they were frightened but Jesus said "It is I. Do not be afraid." Peace. But here's the part that I've really been reflecting on"They wanted to take him into the boat, but the boat immediately arrived at the shore to which they were heading." (JN 6:21) While they were focused on Jesus and his power, they arrived at their destination. There are other places in scripture where we see Jesus calm the storm and tell the waves to be still but not here. The wind is blowing, the sea is threatening and Jesus is present in the midst of it all bringing them safely to where they need to be.
We all experience strong winds in our livestimes when we're miles from shore on an unfriendly sea. Maybe it's a family or personal illness, maybe a bad financial situation or trouble in an important relationship. Whatever the situation, when we are longing for the wind to stop blowing and the water to become peaceful again, we should remember that Jesus is right there in the midst of the storm with us. And has he did for the disciples, he will bring us to shore. Maybe not immediately, although that would be nice, but most certainly. He knows where we're supposed to be heading, and he will see that we get there if we let him. "Do not be afraid. It is I." To know that is know peace.
Editor's note: Ellen Sargent is a long-time resident of the Marquette area and member of the Catholic Church. She is married to Mining Journal Managing Editor Bud Sargent.