Practice peace during the Easter season

I’ve always been touched that the first words the risen Lord spoke to the Apostles in the upper room were: “Shalom! Peace!”

In my humanness my first words might have been something like: “Hey, where were you guys? Weren’t you the ones who said you would stay with me, even if it meant dying with me?”

But the risen Lord is beyond such pettiness. Not surprisingly, what Jesus does next is very telling: “He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.’ ”

The gift of the risen Lord to us is peace. The way to access this gift, the way to receive this gift, is to practice forgiveness! If we build our lives around blaming and complaining, holding onto grudges and building resentments, then we will be so filled with our own egos that the spirit of Christ can’t get into our lives.

Most of us use the 40 days of Lent to practice some form of penance. What if we devoted the 50 days of the Easter season practicing peace?

What would our lives look like if we practiced dropping all resentments, letting go of all our grudges, releasing every negative feeling as soon as we feel it, replacing every negative thought with a positive thought? We would then attain inner peace.

What would inner peace look like? Recently, I received a list of “some signs and symptoms of inner peace.” Here is that list:

•A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than on fears based on past experiences.

•An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment.

•A loss of interest in judging other people.

•A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.

•A loss of interest in conflict.

•A loss of the ability to worry.

•Frequent, overwhelming episodes of appreciation.

•Contented feelings of connectedness with others.

•Frequent attacks of smiling.

•An increasing tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen.

•An increased openness to the love extended by others as well as the uncontrollable urge to extend it.

Isn’t that an amazingly, wonderful list? Wouldn’t we all like to live like that?

It’s not a ‘natural’ way to live in the sense that in this ego-driven world, drama is the name of the game. Our minds conjure up critical and blaming thoughts. These thoughts find their way into our conversations: “Did he?” “Didn’t she?” “She can’t talk to me like that!” “He can’t get away with this!” And on and on. The ego specializes in separating us from each other and even from ourselves. Even individual religions can take on a corporate ego so that people can even be divided over belief in God!

But the risen Lord has taught us a better way. All we have to do is to practice breathing in the peace of Christ each moment, and letting go of the things that separate us from others and even divide us within ourselves. We have practiced penances for the past 40 days. What not try practicing peace for the next 50 days?

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.