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Peace Be With You

Spring has arrived in Williamsburg. The daffodils and dogwoods are blooming and the first shoots of fresh green leaves are starting to emerge. Bumblebees are waking up to begin their busy work visiting each new clover flower. The emergence of new life is all around. This time of year reminds me of my favorite image of St. Francis of Assisi, the late 12th century founder of The Franciscans - surrounded by woodland animals in a Spring meadow.

It is The Prayer of St. Francis, also known as The Prayer for Peace, that reminds us of our calling to be the reflection of Divine Peace in the world.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:

where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek

to be consoled as to console,

to be understood as to understand,

to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive,

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

In Jewish and Arabic traditions, the greeting, "Peace be with you" is commonly shared. And while it is shared with the desire that those greeted experience peace, it is also a call to action. That can feel a bit counterintuitive as the feeling of being peaceful is generally viewed as a passive experience of tranquility. The Greek word we commonly translate as “peace” is eirene, which refers to a very particular kind of peace that is the product of a proper administration of both justice and goods. In fact, in Greek mythology Eirene is associated with springtime. Spring being the season in which nature blooms and bears fruit, the kind of peaceful harmony spring brings about implies this abundance of goods that then needs to be properly administered. In this way Peace is the result of human action.

In the recounting of the Easter resurrection story in John 20:21-23, Jesus appears to the disciples.

21Again Jesus said to them, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, so also I am sending you.” 22When He had said this, He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld.”

Our way shower and brother, Jesus instructs us to be the bearers of peace - to actively work - as the instrument or tool - to build harmony where there is dissonance. In a world where divisions seem so deep, St. Francis reminds us, "All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle." And as we reflect Divine Presence, "The deeds (we) do may be the only sermon some persons will hear today."

Peace be with you.


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