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052619 Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Fr. Reggie

Today we are brought back to the night of the Last Supper. We take our places with the Twelve Apostles, gathered around the sacred table with Christ, Our Lord. We listen to his words, which are both mysterious and glorious. It is Christ's last meal with his closest followers. He wants to leave them a parting gift. What is it? What does Christ want to bequeath to his Apostles at the Last Supper? Peace. "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you."

And what does he mean by peace? Not what we usually think: "Not as the world gives do, I give it to you."

Christ's peace is lasting. It is interior peace of heart, which overflows into peace in families, in communities, in entire nations. It is the peace that comes from knowing without any doubt whatsoever that we are loved by him. It is the peace that comes from knowing without any doubt whatsoever that whenever we offend him, he will always be ready to forgive us. It is the peace that comes from knowing without any doubt whatsoever that we have a purpose in life, a mission - the very mission that Christ himself has given us: to spread his Kingdom. As today's Psalm puts it, to "make his way known upon earth; among all nations, his salvation."

Only because Christ has given us this peace, by giving us faith in his love, mercy, and mission, he can command us: "Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid."  If our peace were based on anything else: popularity, wealth, comfort, or power, it would be unstable, because all those things are vulnerable to change. But Christ's peace isn't vulnerable, because it's based on his love, mercy, and mission, and those are everlasting.

We have all heard the proverb, still waters run deep. It's true for lakes and oceans, but it's also true for the spiritual life. The deeper our friendship with Christ, the more stable our lives becomes. Even when storms come and make waves on the surface of the ocean, the depths remain calm. Christ wants us to learn to live a deep spiritual life, so that we can experience profound interior peace.

There is a similar analogy with trees.

Pine trees are notoriously unstable.  This is because their roots spread out horizontally, just barely under the surface of the ground. This type of root system helps pine trees survive in their native higher elevations, where there is only a thin layer of soil over the rocky ground. But it makes the trees vulnerable. When high winds blow or storms break, they are easily uprooted.

Oak trees, on the other hand, are famous for their sturdiness.  They stand tall and strong while storms and wind wreak havoc with the other trees around them. White Oak trees consistently resist even tornados. Why? Their root system is different. They put down a deep tap root - a single, thick root that goes straight down into the soil and serves as an anchor. If you plant a White Oak tree acorn, it will grow its tap root down into the soil for almost an entire year before you see even a tiny sprout on the surface.

When our lives are deeply grounded in the soil of Christ's love, mercy, and mission, they become strong and fruitful. 

The tap root of friendship with Christ brings interior peace even during life's biggest storms.

It is good to be reminded of this.  We need to be reminded that Christ's love, mercy, and mission can give us the interior peace we long for, that as our friendship with Christ grows, so will our experience of that peace. That's why this theme keeps coming up during the Easter season.

Even so, most of us probably don't experience this peace as much as we would like to.

And yet, we do experience it. When life's storms come, we know where to go. We know that Christ is here for us. We can turn to him in prayer. We can experience him in the Eucharist and in confession. We can run to his Mother, Mary, the Queen of Peace.

But so many people around us never experience this peace.  They don't know where to go. They don't know that Christ's friendship is the root of peace. They have not tasted his love or mercy. They don't know that God created them for a mission.

If we who believe in Christ and have his friendship still find life so difficult, still struggle to experience the interior peace we are called to, imagine how much more difficult and turbulent it is those who do not know Christ.

The good news is that we can help them.  We can introduce them to Christ. Our prayers, words, example, and actions can bring them the message that Christ has brought to us.

Today, when Jesus comes to renew his commitment to us, we must renew the soil that gives our tap root its strength, let's renew our commitment to being messengers of his peace.

After all, he's the one who told us: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God." (Mt 5:9)

 

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