MAY THE PEACE OF THE LORD BE WITH YOU ALWAYS
Second Samuel 24:14
Brothers and Sisters,
From the moment I first heard it, I have loved the old hymn titled “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” which was most famously performed by Iris DeMent. Here is the text of one of the verses:
What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms?
I have blessed peace, with the Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
This verse (and the entire hymn) is speaking about the peace of Christ – which is something that is easy to causally overlook. The Resurrection is exciting – the epic finish to the Paschal Mystery – and I, too, get swept up in the thrill-of-the-moment. Ultimately, though, the Victory of Christ brings peace.
Through the Victory of Christ over death, humanity is now free to live without dread. We tend to worry about many things, but, regardless of how the minor or major things in our lives work out, Christ is still risen from the dead. Regardless of our wealth or poverty, our health or lack thereof, our brilliance or lack of knowledge, Christ has still overcome the grave.
This is peace: that Christ came to humanity even though He had no need to do so. He came to our aid even though there was no gain in it for Himself. He gave us everything, though He owed us nothing. All of these are founded in His mercy.
We are able to sleep at ease because of Christ’s mercy. There is no way that we individually or as a group could pay back the Almighty for His peace. His mercy is an offer that we can only recognize with gratitude.
Divine Mercy Sunday is properly part of the Easter Octave, celebrating that Christ “broke the prison bars of death” (Exsultet). With us no longer needing to fear even death, we see that there is no challenge or difficulty in life that needs to be feared either. Even with dangers, misfortunes, and failing health Christ is still risen from the dead, and the Victor over evil.
The Book of Wisdom had long-since predicted that there would come a day when “grace and mercy shall ever be with His holy ones and the care of Almighty God will be with His elect” (3:9). Regardless of tough times, Christ is still risen from the dead; regardless of sad days or stressful seasons, Christ is still risen. So, here’s the best advice from David the Great king when we are over-stressed or worried: “when distressed, let us fall into the hand of God, whose mercy is great, rather than trusting in human hands” (2 Sam 24:14).
God be near,