Making Peace with Rebels.

All couples fight. In fact, sometimes, when done fairly and well, it can be a sign of a healthy relationship. My wife and I are both passionate people who are fairly bad at hiding our emotions or reactions. We have been known to verbally spar a bit. 

If I am honest, we have even done this on the way to Church. Yes, I admit it, at times in our marriage, we will be in the midst of a disagreement or I’ve said something stupid or mean and we will actively fight on the drive to Mass. It isn’t a great way to enter into the Sacred Mysteries of Jesus Christ. 

Mass will proceed as mostly as normal and then we will all get to the Sign of Peace. I will turn to my wife, she will turn to me, and we will offer each other the Sign of Peace and without fail, we will be reconciled. Offering peace to each other works. 

In the gospel this Sunday Jesus Christ rises from the dead and appears to his disciples. The first thing he says to them is “Peace be with you.” In fact, he says it twice. For a long time I thought is was just because the disciples were actively freaking out because their dead friend and leader was standing, talking, and eating in front of them just 3 days after they watched him be publicly executed. I mean, com’on, we would be freaking out too. It makes sense that Jesus is inviting them to be at peace (calm down).

However, Jesus offers the disciples and, by extension all of us, something more than just an invitation to remain calm. Jesus is offering us the kind of peace that happens at the end of a war or battle. 

When we sin, we become rebels. We rebel against God’s divine plan of sheer goodness, perfect order, and overwhelming beauty. In a sense, our sin is a declaration of war against God and what God wants for us in our lives. To reject God’s plan for us is to form a rebellion. Certainly Jesus came to heal, teach, proclaim the kingdom, and restore Eden, in other words, to save souls. To do this he has to make peace with our rebel forces. Jesus Christ makes that peace by not only offering it to us unconditionally, but he makes all the concessions. Our only responsibility is to cooperate with Jesus and respond to his offer of peace. 

The peace Jesus offers the disciples in this Sunday’s gospel isn’t only an invitation to remain calm, but is an offer of peace to all us rebels in the human race. To receive that peace, and eternal peace, all we must do is surrender our rebellion and receive the Peace of Christ. 

Live It: This Sunday at Mass offer your family members an authentic and heartfelt Sign of Peace. (Maybe warn then ahead of time.) If you attend Mass alone, offer peace to those in your area and pray for them throughout the rest of Mass. 

Sunday Readings for May 23, 2021.

I’m your huckleberry.

Quarreling is our current national pastime. Whether it is politics, covid/stay-at-home orders, race, religion, the environment, sex, parenting, sports, money or whatever – we quarrel about nearly everything. Not only do we like to quarrel, we enjoy watching other people quarrel. A significant portion of cable networks is just video of people quarreling about some topic. We have build vast online frontiers where we can pick a fight at a moments notice.

Somedays I wonder if people want to change the US motto from “In God we trust.” to “Well, actually…” It seems it would be more accurate. In the Gospel this week we read about Jesus teaching a truth that caused the Jews to “quarrel amongst themselves.” What caused them to quarrel? Jesus said that his flesh was bread and if they ate his flesh, they would live forever. Later Jesus preaches this:

Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever. 
John 6: 52-59

Jesus wasn’t speaking in metaphor. Jesus wasn’t talking symbolically. Even those of us who enjoy quarreling won’t argue with a metaphor (though we might argue how accurate it is). Jesus teaches this truth over and over again in John 6. Jesus was so committed to this teaching that he was willing to loose every single follower if necessary. 

What would make this teaching necessary? It is true. Jesus gives us himself, his own body, both on the cross on Calvary and in every single Mass in the Eucharist. The truth is is that if we eat of his flesh, we can have eternal life with him forever.

If we have the true intimacy that comes with full communion through the Eucharist, we will draw ever closer to Jesus. Just as Jesus will enter into us through our consuming of his flesh and blood, we will enter into the inner life of the Trinity in Heaven. There is no more intimate relationship than this. 

People have and will quarrel about this truth. That doesn’t make it any less true.

The decision each of us has to make is whether we will walk away because that teaching is hard, not modern, and weird, or whether we respond like St. Peter and say, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

Do we believe what Jesus says is true or will we quarrel?

LIVE IT: 2 steps to this micro challenge: 1) Read the entire chapter of John 6. 2) Go for a walk and think about what happens and what Jesus teaches.