A while back I had to pick up a friend at JFK airport. As I sat and waited,
one group of people struck me as quite unique: all the women wore monochrome full-sleeve blouses
with black ankle-length skirts, all the men wore suits and hats, the girls all wore plaid jumpers,
and each boy had the same blue pants and shirt. Nobody could mistake them for anything but Orthodox
Jews. As the regular modern folk passed with their vulgarly-styled clothing, each so different and
yet each the same, this group of Jews remained and seemed all the more unique by the contrast. As
you looked into their eyes, you could sense a deep peace; while looking into the eyes of the passing
multitude, the same stone-blank look passed a thousand times.
When we hear “peace,” we
immediately think of an absence of conflict, but real peace is an abiding presence. An absence
of conflict is a perquisite but not all, a garbage dump usually lacks conflict but also lacks peace.
The Hebrew word for peace, shalom, meant a combination of all good things so that when Christ says,
“Peace be with you,” (John 20:19,21) he does not just intend for us to be without conflict but to
have him, beyond all other good things, in us.
It was obvious that these Jews had received
some abiding from God, but we, as Catholics can receive his full and substantial presence in the
Eucharist, and can remove our internal conflicts via Confession. The sacraments are the true source
of peace. The solution to world peace is found in the peace of each man’s heart. The disciples were
filled with joy seeing the risen Lord and receiving his peace, but he responded by sending them into
the world. Let us bring his peace to this troubled world.
Questions or comments? Please, write to publications (at) arcol.org