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Peace and Reconciliation

First Reading: 1 Kings 18:41-46

Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink,
for there is the sound of a heavy rain.”
So Ahab went up to eat and drink,
while Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel,
crouched down to the earth,
and put his head between his knees.
“Climb up and look out to sea,” he directed his servant,
who went up and looked, but reported, “There is nothing.”
Seven times he said, “Go, look again!”
And the seventh time the youth reported,
“There is a cloud as small as a man’s hand rising from the sea.”
Elijah said, “Go and say to Ahab,
‘Harness up and leave the mountain before the rain stops you.’”
In a trice the sky grew dark with clouds and wind,
and a heavy rain fell.
Ahab mounted his chariot and made for Jezreel.
But the hand of the LORD was on Elijah,
who girded up his clothing and ran before Ahab
as far as the approaches to Jezreel.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 65:10, 11, 12-13

R. (2a) It is right to praise you in Zion, O God.
You have visited the land and watered it;
greatly have you enriched it.
God’s watercourses are filled;
you have prepared the grain.
R. It is right to praise you in Zion, O God.
Thus have you prepared the land:
drenching its furrows, breaking up its clods,
Softening it with showers,
blessing its yield.
R. It is right to praise you in Zion, O God.
You have crowned the year with your bounty,
and your paths overflow with a rich harvest;
The untilled meadows overflow with it,
and rejoicing clothes the hills.
R. It is right to praise you in Zion, O God.

Gospel: Matthew 5:20-26

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that
of the scribes and Pharisees,
you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.

“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.
But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother
will be liable to judgment,
and whoever says to his brother,
‘Raqa,’ will be answerable to the Sanhedrin,
and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna.
Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar,
and there recall that your brother
has anything against you,
leave your gift there at the altar,
go first and be reconciled with your brother,
and then come and offer your gift.
Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him.
Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge,
and the judge will hand you over to the guard,
and you will be thrown into prison.
Amen, I say to you,
you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.”

NAB

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After a quiet to moderate level of vocal participation from the congregation throughout the Mass, the voices suddenly ring out loudly and clearly for the closing song:

Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth, the peace that was meant to be.

I serve as a cantor in the music ministry at my parish. My church community loves to sing this song. They sing this prayer from the bottom of their heart.

Let peace begin with me, let this be the moment now.
With every step I take, let this be my solemn vow:
To take each moment, and live each moment, with peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.

Maybe their passionate participation has something to do with the state of our world today, or maybe it just has something to do with the human experience. We long for peace—not only eternally, but now—and Christ desires it for us, too.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus speaks to His disciples: “You have heard that it was said to your ancestors . . . .” Jesus makes reference to the Ten Commandments and how they were understood in the Old Covenant of the Old Testament. He continues: “But I say to you”here, Jesus gives a new direction, calling us to deeper conversion, as part of His New Covenant. In addition to what we are not to do, Jesus missions us—”Go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” Jesus calls us to reconciliation with one another. He calls us to mercy.

I am not the kind of person who angers easily. I do, however, get annoyed and impatient. I fail (often) to be the woman God desires me to be. But God calls me to more. Maybe you need to seek peace with your mother or your sister. Maybe you owe an apology to your husband, your friend, or your co-worker. Maybe you need to be more merciful with yourself. We are called to reconciliation, for only then can we find the peace of Christ.

Will you join me in praying, sisters? Lord God, it is right to praise You. Inspired by the Psalmist, we pray that you will break up the clods of anger in our hearts, be they big or small. Soften us with showers of your grace and mercy. Help us to blossom and bear fruit for your kingdom. May peace begin in our hearts today and spread everywhere we go.

photo credit

Elise Howe is a devoted wife, momma, and musician currently living in NYC, though she will always be a midwestern gal at heart. You can find out more about her here.

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