One of the series on HBO that was intriguing and thought-provoking for me was Chernobyl. Perhaps being a child of the ’80s and having lived under the Communist regime, the reality of what happened in Chernobyl really touched me. I found myself relating to many of the things portrayed in the series, especially how the government only worried about its image and interests more than its own people. What is sadder was to be able to see that this incident could have been avoided if the decision making were more people-oriented than power-based, saving-face, policy-driven, and control-centered motivations.
This series puts into pictures, as to remind us, of the grim reality when government gets too big that it only worries about itself — its agenda and particular goods — instead of the good of its own citizens and people. Hence, when we put too much trust and allow an overarching, institutionalized organization — in this case, the socialist government — to dictate and control our lives, rule over us with fear, intimidate and manipulate us with its self-centered propaganda, we become pawns to be used to protect its particular interests, assesses, and image instead of truly caring and serving those who are entrusted to them.
When the government gets too big or an institution gets too much control of our lives, we lose our dignity and respect. Why? It only worries about being in control and will do whatever it can to get what it wants at all costs! This desire to be in complete, total control by the government has always been one of our biggest human struggles in human history. We all begin with good intentions, even socialism! However, as soon as one gets too much power, one wants to keep it at all costs.
When we lose sight of the people who are entrusted to us and around us, we use all means to get what we want in the name of truth, legalism, and even justice. Yet, at the end, behind all those motives, we often end up with something very self-serving. Our society and its contingents love propaganda and use it well to get what they want without telling their true intention! They wrap up the package in a very nicely-worded, even at times, faithful, traditional, conservative, caring, inclusive, revolutionary, political, or patriotic way. We ourselves often get caught up with words and ideologies of the propaganda that we have not taken the time to realize the real motive and reason behind the actions, reactions, movements, or revolutions.
However, the Sacred Scriptures remind us that true prosperity and blessing have to be grounded in God and His grace for us. They have to lead us to Him and makes us dependent on Him, not just some human-made matters or institutions! For examples, Isaiah 66:10-14 reminds us that we are carried and nurtured by the Lord, loved and comforted by Him like a mother who comforts her child. Even though at times, we will feel like lambs among wolves, withholding many dangerous attacks with little on hand, but we have to remember that we are not alone! He is always with us and we are sent forth — by the virtue of our baptism — to be messengers of His peace. (cf. Luke 10:1-12, 17-20) The Gospel reminds us that we are called to share this peace with one another as we greet, welcome, and care for one another. We are reminded that “if a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you.” The instruction given by our Master, the One who has sent us forth in His name, is personal and clear as we are called to give and share the peace in each and every person and meeting.
We are called to be hospitable and welcoming to one another, loving and caring for each other as if we are the Lord‘s gifts. If we cannot do that as a parish, we will die out because we are stuck in our own ways and become stagnant. If we cannot do that as a society, we will become self-serving, closed in, disconnected from reality. If we cannot do that as individuals, we will be isolated, sad, and crusty because we are pushing people around us away. Let us ask ourselves an honest question… Are we doing any of that a parish, society, and individual? We are invited to remember that before we give the sign of peace to each other, the priest reminds the congregation that, “May the peace of the Lord be with you always,” and we in turn share that peace with one another. This is an important reminder, not just something nice, liturgical, or simply to be done at Mass for the sake of doing something, since every word and action at the liturgy has a meaning and catechetical purpose. The liturgical action reminds us that we are called to receive and share the peace of the Lord with one another, in both words and actions, genuinely and wholeheartedly.
It is not easy because we are called to live in the peace of the Lord even though it is hard at times! St. Paul reminds us that peace and mercy are with those who follow Jesus Christ, and His grace is upon us when we unite our lives to the love shown on the Cross. He said, “May I never boast except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (cf. Galatians 6:14-18) Therefore, let us not lose heart when we are rejected, forgotten, love unanswered or not welcomed, because even when the Savior knows that He will be rejected by many, He still chooses to love us — even on the Cross. As His disciples, we are called to love, even if our love offers us personal crosses to bear.
It is not easy to remain in the peace of the Lord, but we cannot have a genuine, caring, and loving society, parish, or relationships without His loving peace. We cannot build a caring parish, respectful society, and nourish true friendships without the Lord and our commitments to live by His love. Therefore, let us take heed to build up, nourish, and share that peace within our parish and society by how we care for one another. May the peace of the Lord be with you and I!