When Jesus comes to His disciples after the Resurrection the first thing he says to them is “Peace be with you.” The Bible tells us that their reaction is anything but peaceful – they are startled and terrified.
Peace often seems to be in short supply in our world. We live in reactionary times. Fear of being sued, or taken advantage of, or giving up what we value spurs us to be defensive, both as individuals and as a society. It is easy to say “Peace be with you,” but how do we actually make a difference.
The way we greet each other can be a great clue as to the beginnings of peace. Many of our greetings make us defenseless. We might not pick up on this but when we reach out our right hand to shake hands, we cannot grab a sword. When we open up our arms to offer a hug, an enemy could attack. In some cultures both hands are brought together, empty hands and a bow is offered, acknowledging the humanity of the other.
In the Gospels when Jesus talks about peace it is in the context of relationship, often of faith reborn and restored. This relationship with God is the heart of peace. He does not promise peace to all the world, realizing that too often the world operates with suppression and coercion at the heart of a peace-like agreement for living, rather than the true peace of relationship with God and others.
This is worth considering when we become afraid of discord. Where am I making relationships, offering a true and humble greeting, to encourage peace? Where am I truly in relationship with God and with another person (even when that person does not share my beliefs or values) ?
When Jesus says to us “Peace be with you.” We may well be startled and rooted to the spot, but this Jesus in whom we trust, offered relationship, offered peace, even at the highest cost. “Peace be with you” today and always.