2nd Sunday of Easter
Deacon Tom Vert
Preached: April 19, 2020
“Hide and seek is easier than you think!”
I think all of us can remember being children and playing hide and seek either with our family or friends.
I remember playing in my neighbourhood with my brothers and sister and the local neighbourhood kids. We had rules that you had to stay within our one block and no backyards.
If you followed a fairly systematic plan (spoken like a future engineer), hide and seek was easier than you would think as you found all the key hiding spots.
I was thinking of today’s readings and hide and seek popped into my head.
We hear in today’s readings Christ saying to the disciples in the upper room “Peace be with you”.
And when I think of peace, I think many times for myself and maybe for you, it seems so elusive in this world of ours. How do we find peace with cell phones, 24-hour news, the internet, work lives that expect answers day and night, children to be raised, elderly parents to take care of, etc.
At times it seems so overwhelming and as hard to find as a small child hidden behind an evergreen bush.
We should clarify that when Christ says “peace be with you” it is not a frivolous greeting but a powerful statement that has been used in the Middle East by both Christians, Jewish followers and Arabs for thousands of years.
It means, “May God give you every good thing including prosperity, well-being, health, completeness and safety”.
The disciples would have remembered at that moment what Christ said to them at the last supper: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you…do not let your hearts be troubled, do not let them be afraid”
This promise of total peace is what Jesus told them and he tells us. It is not just a feeling of calmness, but instead a feeling of closeness and security. Psalm 131 tells us that we are like a baby sleeping in its mother’s arms, and I think that is a beautiful image of what peace truly is.
Christ tells them this just after the resurrection in order to convey the message that St. Paul has in the 2nd reading: a new birth, a living hope, an inheritance of salvation, the promise of eternal life. This gives us the ability to know that we have a place in heaven reserved for us, with Christ himself as the one who has prepared it.
I remember my own father telling me once close to the end of his life “I don’t know why people are afraid to die…what kind of faith do they really have?” It is a little tough, like my dad, but his point was that we hear every Easter how Christ destroyed death and opened the gates to heaven for us…we should be grateful and not afraid of how life will play out.
So intellectually, we may understand that we are supposed to have peace with this great promise, but how do we really attain peace in the here and now as the world speeds ahead?
I tried to reflect back on times in my own life when I truly felt peace:
- At the top of the Andes mountains with my two daughters looking across ice capped mountains
- When I would nap on the couch with one of the girls also sleeping on my chest
- At prayer in a quiet chapel at St. Augustine’s seminary
- On a walk in the Irish woods with my wife with only the birds to hear our footsteps
I thought about what is common in all these experiences that can help myself and all of us find peace more often and I came up with 4 things:
- Every time it was quiet without the distraction of noise
- Every time God’s presence was there, with him in prayer or with his creation, or with the people he has put into my life
- Each time I was fully present, I wasn’t thinking about past issues, my own weaknesses/faults or things that I had to resolve; and I wasn’t planning the future, but I was truly present in the place I was seeing, hearing, feeling each moment
- And finally, each time, I had an overwhelming feeling of gratitude. If I knew the words, I would have recited today’s psalm “thanks to the Lord, for he is good, and his love is everlasting”
We will have to suffer trials as St. Paul tells us and we are experiencing right now with the coronavirus, however, if we rest in God’s arms and give him our burdens and worries, the distance to peace is not that far.
So, this week, one piece of homework…pick one day where you can carve out 10 minutes.
Find a place that is quiet (could be inside or outside), say a prayer to God for Him to help you be fully present and block out all past thoughts or future worries. Feel God’s presence through nature (a flower or a tree), or with a family member holding you, and thank Him for all the times He is with you on your journey and you don’t even know.
Remember, “hide and seek” is easier than you think.