Mother’s Day is around the corner. Lately, I’ve been reflecting on what my mother taught me. For example, my mother taught me anticipation. Often she said to me, “Just wait till your father gets home.” My mother taught me to accept a challenge. She would say, “Answer me when I speak to you. Look me in the eye.” My mother taught me roots. Often she yelled down the hall, “Close the door. You weren’t born in a barn!” My mother taught me humor. When I would wear flip-flops to cut the grass, she would yell out the window, “Don’t come crying to me if you cut off your toes.” Finally, my mother taught me justice. She would say many times, “One day you will have kids who will be just like you; then you will see what it’s like.” I guess I didn’t need justice!
Jesus teaches us some important lessons in these latter days of Easter. Last week we spoke about love…that all-inclusive Christian act that widens the circle of our community. No one is left out! Today Jesus gives us peace. Now, do not be fooled by the word, peace. It is not the absence of war. It is not the cessation of battles. It is not mushy or gushy kind of feeling when everyone likes me. It is not having everything go my way and therefore I am happy. Jesus speaks, shalom! Literally, it means “completeness.” “May you be complete,” we say when we greet each other with shalom!
But there is more to the meaning of peace-shalom. We cannot be complete without “restitution.” When I take something from you, I cause you to be deficient. When I hurt or slam or bark or attempt to destroy you, I cause you to be deficient. Shalom does not exist in either person’s life. And when I cause you to be deficient, I must restore what was lost.
In the early days of the Church, there exists a great deficiency. The Church is primarily composed of Jewish men and those Jewish women who associated themselves with the men. But because of the movement of the Advocate-the Holy Spirit, Gentiles join, get baptized and receive the charismatic gifts. Who are they to stop the Holy Spirit? And about the year fifty, the apostles and disciples gather in Jerusalem to restore what is lost…that is, the admittance of every faith-filled person to the Church. We do not need to be male. We do not need to be circumcised. We do not need to go to the synagogue or the temple first. All we need is faith and upright lives. At that council they answer the call of Christ’s shalom. The deficiency in the Church is made whole.
All of this is possible because of the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, and The One Who Speaks for Us. The late Anglican Bishop, John Taylor, calls the Holy Spirit, “The Go-Between God.” It is the Holy Spirit that connects us with the Father. And when we do the work of connection, we do the work of shalom. We make all things complete.
Notice that Jesus speaks shalom to us at the Last Supper and at the Resurrection. Despite treachery, denial and fighting, Jesus speaks shalom. Despite the passion, crucifixion, death and the cold tomb, Jesus speaks shalom. Even though it is the apostles who need to do restitution, it is the Christ who initiates the process of shalom! Always and everywhere there is a message of continuity…in every place, in every circumstance and with everyone, shalom! When you and I do the work of shalom, we build the kingdom come down out of heaven from God. There is no temple or church. There is no need for the sun or the moon. The Lord God will be our Light, our Glory.
I remember many things that my mother taught me. Seriously, she always told me, “Tell the Truth.” And to tell you the truth, I miss her greatly. She taught me many things through word and example. Jesus teaches us a great lesson…that to be made whole we must do the work of shalom. The word Shabbat derives meaning from shalom. It is the day of rest. It is the day for completeness. For Christians, that day is today. So, shalom~ may you be complete!
The Rev. Fr. Dr. T. Becket A. Franks, O.S.B.
The Sixth Sunday of Easter