After the two disciples who were on their way to Emmaus recognized Christ at the breaking of bread, they hastily went back to Jerusalem to report what they experienced to the apostles and the others with them.
You can just imagine how these people felt when suddenly Christ appeared to them and greeted them, “Peace be with you!” (cfr. Lk 24,35-48) As the gospel narrates, they were startled and terrified at that greeting, and thought they were seeing a ghost.
That reaction of the apostles was, of course, very understandable. They were witnessing something that purely went beyond the human and natural ways. It is something that we should always expect in our life. There will always be things, being spiritual and supernatural, that will leave us somehow startled and terrified also.
But let’s always remember that Christ always offers peace. So, at the end of the day, when we would be able to take a hold of our all-too-human reactions to supernatural realities, we should be at peace, a peace that Christ himself gives us.
Of course, with that Christ-given peace comes joy also. The two always go together. They cannot be separated, although their expressions may not tally with the worldly standards of joy and peace.
The joy and peace that come from God are always a fruit of a continuing spiritual battle to keep God’s love burning in us. It’s a joy and peace that is compatible with the cross. It is not afraid of suffering which also has an important role to play in our life and in the redemption of mankind.
It’s a joy and peace that comes as a consequence of faith and a growing identification with Christ who bore all the sins of men and the evils of this world and conquered them with his resurrection. In short, it’s a joy and peace that express a guaranteed victory even if at the moment we are still fighting and suffering. It’s an all-weather kind of joy and peace.
We need to examine ourselves to see if we have such joy and peace. It is actually offered to us for free. We just have to find a way of having and keeping it.
And one important way of doing so is to learn to pray, since prayer is our basic way of connecting with God that hopefully would lead us to a growing identification with him as we are meant to be. Remember that we are God’s image and likeness. With God’s grace we are supposed to do our part, free beings as we are, in realizing this divine plan for us.
Learning to pray would obviously need some plan. We have to go by stages. First, would be to learn the vocal prayers, which are already very important as they are inspired prayers given to us if not by Christ himself like the Our Father then by many holy men and women down the ages.
As such, these prayers are very enlightening and would teach us what to say, how to say it, and the kind of attitude or disposition we ought to have. Going through them slowly, trying to figure out what they mean, would certainly help us connect with God.
Then we should just spend some moments everyday doing nothing other than meditating on God’s word as found in the gospel, and on the life and teachings of Christ as reflected in the lives and writings of the saints. This is how we can always have the peace and joy of God and with God!*