Deacon Cornell's Homily


Acts 15:1-2,22-29
Revelation 21:10-14,22-23
John 14:23-29


May 25-26, 2019, Sixth Sunday of Easter, Cycle C

Peace be with you. (wait for response)

If I met you on the street and we talked about some things we each had to do today, I might say to you as we part, "Good luck with your day". How would you respond? I am pretty sure you would respond with something like, "And good luck with YOUR day!" as opposed to "good luck with your DAY!" Our liturgical dialogs should follow the same emphasis. In other words, "and with YOUR spirit!" as opposed to "and with your SPIRIT".

If you think back to the pre-2012 translation, the response was "and also with YOU" which captures that emphasis perfectly. For the those of you old enough to remember when we had this dialog in Latin, the response to "Pax vobiscum" or "Dominus vobiscum" was "Et cum spiritu tuo" In Latin the last word has the emphasis: "and with the spirit of YOU!"

Now those of you who know me, know that I enjoy discussing liturgical details any time, but I brought this up because I think it touches on what Jesus is telling us in today's Gospel.

Jesus says to the apostles, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid." He says this to them right before they experience the most terrifying violence and the loss of their friend and leader Jesus. How can he expect them to have peace? I would suggest the key is that middle sentence: Not as the world gives do I give it to you.

I am going to guess that you are not that different from me. When I think of getting peace, I think of calmness, the absence if not resolution of all the sources of conflict and chaos in my life. That is exactly what I think about, and pray for, when Fr. Jeff is saying that prayer right after the Our Father that ends in asking to be free from sin and safe from all distress. But that is the way the world gives peace. It is not what Jesus is talking about. Jesus is talking about a peace that comes from abandoning ourselves into the arms of the Father through Christ. The closest analogy that I could come up with is probably only going to make sense to parents. Did you ever take a young child to a fireworks display and have them get scared from the noise and the crowds? When you pick them up to comfort them, it is like picking up a bundle of wood: they are stiff with fear, maybe even trembling. But one of the most fulfilling experiences as a parent or caregiver is feeling them start to relax, to calm down, and to what I can only describe as melting into you as they become peaceful. The fireworks and the crowd noises are still all around but because of their trust in you, they find peace.

The peace that Jesus gives is only experienced in that relationship with Christ. Christ gathers us here each week to participate in ritual actions that deepen our relationship with Christ. The Church teaches us that we are to experience the real precence of Christ in four ways at Eucharist. The first is, of course, in the consecrated bread and wine, but also in the person of the presider who, by the Holy Spirit and the grace of presbyteral ordination acts in the person of Christ, in the proclaimed Word, and in the assembled body of Christ. For most of us the primary way we encounter Christ is through the Body of Christ.

So let's make sure we build and strengthen that relationship through our ritual dialogs, and before and after mass, introducing our selves to one another and start getting to know each other's names and stories so that we have a personal relationship with Christ. Then we will start to experience the peace that Christ gives us.

Peace be with you.

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