Dennis McDonald and Margaret and Ed Dilgen led the Upper Room Liturgy for the Sixth Sunday of Easter. The theme focused on Peace, the Peace that Jesus promised to the men and women gathered together following his resurrection. When we use or hear the word peace, what do we actually have in mind? How does that meld with the Peace of which Jesus spoke and promised? How do we live out peace in our world today?
Community prayer for Peace and Holy Unity
(We will take turns reciting each line by passing the mike.)
I will need around me a birch tree, a maple, a redwood a white pine, a sequoia, a cedar, a palm tree.
I want soil from Nigeria, Palestine, the Himalayas, Mississippi, Auschwitz, Oklahoma City, Maui, Alcatraz.
I want water from the Mediterranean Sea, The Baltic, the Ganges River, Glacier Bay, the Sea of Galilee, the Tigris and Euphrates, the Pacific and the Atlantic, the River Jordan, the Dead Sea, Lake Bonaparte, Niagara Falls.
I want air from Kathmandu, Calcutta,Cairo, Nazareth, Athens, the Arctic circle, Mexico City, Port-au-Prince, Bagdad, Kabul.
I want near me a bison, a wolf, an eagle, a silverback gorilla, a giraffe, a kitten, a fawn, a black bear, a polar bear, a golden retriever.
From the waters, I want a humpback whale, a porpoise, a sea turtle, a manta ray, a flounder, a harp seal.
From the heavens I want a comet, a rainbow, a lightning bolt, a blue moon, a summer storm, a snowy night, a mauve and golden sunrise.
I want fire from my morning candle, the farthest star in the Milky Way, a camp-fire in the Adirondacks, the funeral pyres in Varanasi, the Buddhist temples in Kyoto.
I want an altar made of rock from Rajasthan Alexandria, the Acropolis, Canyon de Chelly, the Grand Canyon, Vermont, Italy, Sedona, Syracuse and Sendai.
I want co-celebrants from an Ethiopian village, a Harlem tenement, a preschool in Pokhara, a nursing home in Selma, a prisoner Guantanamo, a Harvard Law class, the Smokey Mountain garbage dump in Manila, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
I want bread kneaded and pressed by the hands of millionaires, chambermaids, sherpas, Bolivian tin workers, emigrants and immigrants from a hundred countries, three Fortune 500 CEO's. Nine Exxon boar member, 14 Chicago gang members, and seven out of work shrimpers from the Gulf of Mexico.
I want a pair of Chinese peasants, Israeli kindergartners, Japanese Bonsai masters, Navajo weavers, Zuni potters, Tlingit pole makers, and African diamond miners.
Once assembled, we will celebrate the liturgy that contains them all.
We will sing till the earth wobbles in her orbit, give praise and thanks till wine runs from the sugar maple.
We will bow in holiness we see in each other forgiving the past, blessing the present, committing to a future that is good for everyone.
And this will be our prayer for peace and holy Unity
a welcome to the dawning of an Uncommon Era.
By Jan Phillips
First Reading: A reading from Pacem in Terris, Encyclical from John XXIII
"Yet peace is but an empty word, if it does not rest upon... an order that is founded on truth, built upon justice, nurtured and animated by charity, and brought into effect under the auspices of freedom.
So magnificent, so exalted is this aim that human resources alone, even though inspired by the most praiseworthy good will, cannot hope to achieve it. God Herself must come to our aid with Her heavenly assistance, if human society is to bear the closest possible resemblance to the kingdom of God.
The liturgy of these days reechoes the same message: “Jesus, after His resurrection stood in the midst of His disciples and said: Peace be with you. The disciples rejoiced when they saw him". It is Christ, therefore, who brought us peace; Christ who gave it to us: "Peace I leave with you: my peace I give to you: not as the world gives, do I give it to you."
May Christ inflame the desires of all to break through the barriers which divide them, to strengthen the bonds of mutual love, to learn to understand one another, and to pardon those who have done them wrong. Through Her power and inspiration may all peoples welcome each other to their hearts as sisters and brothers, and may the peace they long for ever flower and ever reign among them." (Pacem in Terris, John XXIII 1963: 167-168,171)
These are the inspired words of John XXIII, and the community affirms them by saying, Amen.
Gospel: A Reading from the Gospel attributed to John.
On the night before Jesus died, he said to his disciples: Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my God. I will love that disciple and reveal myself to that one...
All who love me will follow my teaching. My Loving God will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. The words I have spoken are not my own. They belong to the One who sent me.
I have spoken them while still with you; but the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom our Loving God will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you. If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to God, for God is greater than I. I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.
These are the inspired words from the Gospel attributed to John, and the community affirms them be saying, Amen.
Homily Reflection by Dennis McDonald
We started our liturgy today with a prayer provided by Margaret, a prayer for peace and holy unity. As individuals, who read the lines, we stated “I want”, and it is wants that have been desired over the centuries, wants longed for since before the time of Jesus. It is a yearning, as the prayer indicates, for all to be united in love, care, and respect for one another and all of creation It is human nature to desire peace, to long for a world of non-violence, to hope that all people are treated with dignity and respect, and that the earth is treasured and cared for.
And yet, we live in a world where violence persists, as it has since the beginning of time, whether it be the violence of creation such as volcanoes, hurricanes, wild fires, or human disregard for the lives of others, and the desire to control the rights and destinies of others. We all know that currently, many rights are under attack, many people are under duress, due to those in power in many countries, striking out in anger, in resentment, in fear. The earth is in peril due to those who fail to, or decide not to, recognize the overwhelming evidence of global warming. Those abused and maligned are crying out in anguish, searching for safe harbor, for compassion, for new life.
In the midst of this stands Jesus, with a message of love and compassion, with a greeting of “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you, not as the world gives, but as I give it to you”. As John XXIII says in his encyclical, Pacem in Terris, this peace that Jesus promised, is not possible without divine assistance. It is imperative that we reflect on this peace we are invited to live. It is, as we all know, not easy to sustain it. It is oh so easy to fall sway to the culture of violence that surrounds us each day. We need the constant reaffirmation that the indwelling of the Spirit, in each of us, can transform us into a person of peace, justice, and compassion. So, where do we stand, and with whom do we stand in this time of violence? How can we stand against it?
It is important to recall that Jesus delivered this message to the community of disciples gathered together. His message was at once for each of them, but also for them as a community committed to following the way prepared by Jesus. It is within community that we are nourished with and reminded of the call to peace. It is within community that we find strength and courage to stand and speak out against injustice. The message of Jesus is a call that “is founded on truth, built upon justice, nurtured and animated by charity, and brought into effect under the auspices of freedom”. These words of John XXIII are inspirational and challenging. The question is, are we up to the challenge?
What did you hear? How do You live out peace in our world today? Where do you find nourishment to remain committed to the call? What will it cost you?