March 28, 2014

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

Find peace and quiet in Jesus

Sean GallagherThere’s usually little peace and quiet in a house where five boys ages 11 and under live. When I talk about my young boys to people who don’t know them, I’ll often jokingly say that when I drive home at night, it sometimes seems like the house is bouncing up and down on its foundation.

Some days, that’s not too far from the truth.

But even loud boys who like to play with reckless abandon long for silence and harmony every now and then, even if there’s not much hope for it in our house.

Just the other day, our 4-year-old son Philip out of the blue said at lunch, “I can’t wait until the end of the world. Then I can have some peace and quiet.”

My wife, Cindy, and I chuckled at his words because he expressed in his own imitable way the desire of our hearts on many a day when our house seems like Grand Central Station, and our boys are like loud locomotives screeching to a halt or careening through to the next stop.

Maybe we can take comfort in the fact that Jesus had little peace and quiet during his public ministry. From his 40 days in the desert in which the devil tempted him until his death on the cross, Jesus experienced little harmony that his human heart surely desired. Indeed, we see him regularly retreating to the wilderness or mountains to pray in solitude.

These attempts to find peace and quiet were sometimes thwarted by the crowds’ desire to be close to Jesus, to hear him preach and experience his healing power.

Much of the Gospels are filled with him and his disciples constantly on the go on the roads of Galilee and Judea. And if the crowds with their good but surely tiring desires weren’t pressing upon Jesus, then he was beset by the biting criticism of the scribes and Pharisees or the screeches of unclean spirits. And none of this, of course, compares with the physical suffering and mental anguish that he experienced in his passion and death.

All of this changed with the Resurrection, however. There, we see the risen Lord telling his amazed and frightened disciples, “Peace be with you” (Lk 24:36; Jn 20:19). In his rising from the dead, Jesus has forever overcome the trials and tribulations of this world.

At the same time, he knows that his disciples will remain in the midst of the world to carry out a great mission that he has for them. In addition to wishing them peace, Jesus sends them out to the ends of the Earth to make disciples of all nations, to baptize them and to teach them what they learned from him.

It was the disciples’ experience of the peace of the risen Lord and the surpassing knowledge that they shared in his eternal life through the power of the Holy Spirit that made bearable the lack of peace and quiet in carrying out their mission.

Maybe as we’re in the middle of Lent, we can look in hope to the example of Jesus’ disciples after his Resurrection. We may have already had a few stumbles and falls in our Lenten disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Hopefully, we’re striving to get back on track with the help of God’s grace.

In any case, we may already be yearning some peace and quiet in our spiritual lives that will come with the great celebration of Easter in three weeks.

If that’s the case, or if in any time of the year you find yourself weighed down by life’s struggles, then look to and ask Jesus for his peace that filled and fired the hearts of his disciples as they experienced one hardship after another in proclaiming the Gospel.

They didn’t have to wait until the end of their lives or the end of the world for that peace to reign in their hearts.

Neither do we. †

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