Octave Day of Easter
D. G. Phillips
Cove, Crousetown March 30, AD 2008
1 John 5:4f
and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
And when he
had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side.
Peace be unto
What are the
things that keep us from knowing peace?
In the world, we
hear of war and rumours of wars on the news. We follow daily
accounts of bombings or insurgencies and we pray for peaceful
resolutions of these conflicts between nations and within nations.
Something is not right in this world, peace is fragile. But we know
a certain social peace and stability here, [these external wars are
not what disturb our peace, unless we are directly involved in their
resolution – as soldiers or the family of those involved in trying
to bring peace.] But we may have anxieties closer to home about our
safety – in our homes, in our daily lives – we have to lock our cars
– some people would steal them – we take steps to minimize our
insecurity – of body, of finances – but we can never have complete
peace in this world.
In our world,
our day to day world of encounters with one another, a spouse, a
friend, a member of the Church or the wider community. We know a
certain lack of peace with one another, don’t we? We offend and are
offended in small ways by one another and there is a certain
unease in each others presence, an unease that we hope and
suspect will be done away with in heaven – we would like greater
peace even now.
In our own souls
we know, if we are reflective, a certain lack of peace – a lack of
peace between what we know to be the way of holiness and of our
outward actions; a certain discomfort within ourselves, we see an
inner battle – I have left undone those things that I ought to have
done and have done those things which I ought not to have done, and
there is no health in me – that is, if I rely only on my own
strength, my own character, I fail. And my faith, my trust in God’s
help, is imperfect. There is a war within me between the flesh and
the spirit – a lack of peace.
something which perhaps shatters our peace more than any other
disturbance in our lives, and that is the death of a loved one. So
much so, that no matter how much we are prepared for it, we can
never know it or prepare ourselves fully before it happens. How
could someone we love so much be taken away from us – and it also
raises deep questions for us and for our own future, the severing of
the soul and body, there is something so profoundly wrong with that
– and we have no peace.
These are all of
these sources of dis-ease in us, things that cause a lack of peace
in us – our world and social order, our personal safety, our lack of
reconciliation with others, our lack of reconciliation within
ourselves, the loss of loved ones, and our health and our coming
On the third day
after Jesus’ crucifixion, the disciples were greatly distressed in
soul, and they had many reasons to not be at peace.
The Gospel says
that they were locked in a room, afraid of the Jewish authorities –
if Jesus had been arrested and condemned to such a horrible death,
surely they were next on the list. They lived in a very violent
world. There were unfriendly soldiers everywhere in the streets.
greatly distressed in soul because they had given up all to follow
Jesus and had trusted that he was the Messiah, only to see their
hopes of a new Kingdom dashed.
Each one of them
had their own personal reasons to feel shame –all of the disciples,
who had spoken so bravely in his presence, fled when Jesus was
arrested, Peter had later denied that he even knew Jesus, not once,
but three times – and he knew Jesus knew it.
greatest distress was their deep grief at the death of their dearest
friend, their teacher, and their Lord. But their deep distress was
soon to be changed.
Jesus and stood in the midst
disciples], and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. And he
showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad,
when they saw the Lord.
distress – the death of a loved one, and death itself, as such an
offense to every human being – is overcome in a moment – it
is really him, the same one that was nailed to the Cross. If he can
do this for himself, be raised from the dead, he can do this for us
– because God is good, and if it makes so much sense to us that this
would be a good thing, how much more it makes sense to God who is
resurrection is the only thing that can restore peace to our souls
in the face of death – our own death and the death of a loved one.
But if we are
going to live beyond this life, it means that we carry the guilt of
the things we have done in this life into the next. Can we face our
Maker, with this guilt, can we ever have peace with what we have
done in the past?
And he showed
them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad.
Here is the only
thing that can give us peace – the certain knowledge that Jesus’
perfect offering of himself, his sacrifice, on the cross has been
accepted – my Father hath sent me for this purpose.
For God so loved the world, that he gave
his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not
perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son
into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him
might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned.
Peace about our
death, peace about the death of loved ones, peace about the
forgiveness of our sins.
What about peace
Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: As my Father hath
sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed
on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whosesoever
sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye
retain, they are retained.
others comes about primarily, by our forgiving of them. As I
have loved you, so should you love one another. His dying for
us, His forgiveness of us – these are the primary ways that God
loves us, and we are given supernatural power, even the Holy Ghost
to enable us to do the same – to give up our lives for one another,
and to forgive one another.
on them and gave them the Holy Ghost. How do we get this Holy
In the Epistle,
St. John speaks of our overcoming the world by being born again.
And we are born of God by our baptism and through faith. There we
were washed by water and blood – the precious blood of Jesus – and
we were incorporated into His mystical body.
reconciliation, the peace we desire with God and with one another,
flows from our union with our risen Lord Jesus Christ.
of the battle within us between the flesh and the spirit has begun –
so that we might always serve him in pureness of living and truth.
Here, even in this world, our soul and body can begin to be
Can you think of
any distress of the human soul, that the death and resurrection of
Jesus does not touch?
To all of our
insecurities, to all of our fears, to all of the disquietudes
of our souls, Jesus says to us this morning, as he said to
the disciples on the first day of the week – Peace be unto you.
In the Holy
Communion of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus, we show forth His
death. And as we pray the words of the prayer of Consecration over
the bread and the wine, we believe that by Word and Spirit the risen
Lord Jesus comes to be in our midst. And it is why after these
words are spoken, there is a little silence, a moment of awe, a
moment for adoration. Then the priest says,
The peace of
the Lord be always with you.
Let us rest
there, in the peace that passes all understanding. It is truly a
foretaste of the perfect peace we will know forever in
risen! The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!