2nd Sunday of Easter Reflection by Nicole Zenner

Peace be with you. Have you ever taken some time to reflect on what that statement means? When Jesus said these words to his disciples, he wanted to calm their fears. When I say it to another person, I am hoping that their conscious is clear. I hope that any troubles they bear will be relieved. I hope they are living a life of love. That is a lot of meaning in just four words.

We live in a world where words have an impact…

They don’t belong here.
I will never forgive him.
They deserve what’s coming to them.
She is ugly.

These words have an impact and are not reflective of Christ’s love, and peace, for us. Our words and our actions should heal, and not hurt. I’ll say it again, they should heal, and not hurt. We are all children of God and it can be so easy to look at the homeless, the criminal, the elderly, the handicapped, or a person that does not look like us or live in our neighborhood, as someone less than us. Perhaps someone not worthy of God’s love and forgiveness, nor our compassion. But I’d like to challenge you to make a point to meet someone like that…a homeless person, a person incarcerated, or someone that does not look like you, and look them in the eyes and say, “Peace be with you.” Imagine if every single one of us did this just once a day. Imagine what our home, community, nation, and world would be like if we helped each other find peace every day.

We are a community of one heart and mind and when one of us is hurting and not at peace, it truly does affect all of us. At any given time, one of us is going through pain, grief, ridicule, suffering, disappointments, or anguish. It can be the physical pain of an ailment or accident. It can be the grief of losing a loved one. It can be the ridicule of racists remarks. It can be the suffering of a poverty-stricken and violent neighborhood in Chicago. It can be the disappointment of a job loss. It can be the anguish of a relationship that has ended. Through the pain, we may think that we are alone in what we are going through. But God is always with us…he reminds us of this fact when we listen to him in the silence of our day and when a friend or neighbor reaches out to us to help us heal.

Life would not be life without some pain and tragedy…Jesus’ life is the perfect example of this. But through pain and suffering, there are also many opportunities for a renewal. From my shooting experience, my eyes were open to the struggle that other communities face because of race and poverty. Through volunteer efforts and casting my vote, I can make a change and help provide hope and healing. I also came back to the Church after the shooting experience, as it was the only place I felt at peace in the months that followed. I am so blessed for my faith and am grateful that my work at Saint Clement allows me to help others strengthen their faith. From job losses, I was given the opportunity to move to Chicago and build a life here. Growing up in a small town in rural Minnesota, I would never have thought to move away from friends and family to a city where I really didn’t know anyone. But it has been one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life thus far. Already from grieving the loss of my dad, I have been shown an overwhelming amount of love and grace from my family, friends, and colleagues. Don’t get me wrong, there are days when it’s hard to look past the hurt or I’m just too tired to fight for justice or show compassion. But with each new dawn, there are moments of gratitude, forgiveness, and opportunities to heal others. That is what we are called to do.

The readings for today are beautiful, recognizable, and a call to boldly bear witness to the Resurrection. Are you ready to bring peace to your neighbor?