The PAX DOMINI By Rev. Emmanuel N. ILAGAN
My personal circumstances have limited the meaning I ascribe to the greeting “Peace be with you” — until a few days ago.
I have always thought of the greeting that we say to each other during Sunday worship as referring to inner peace or peace between myself and other individuals. A recent experience reminded me that for some people it means so much more.
A few weeks ago I was in Mindanao Island, the big island in the south of the Philippine archipelago. I have been invited to co-facilitate a government-sponsored planning workshop among youth representatives from the island. The workshop was part of the Philippine government’s 5-year development plan focusing on the needs of 1/3 of the country’s population — the youth.
Although most of the 52 participants were Christian, some came from the Lumads, an ethnic minority, the Federation of Muslim Youth Organizations, the Philippine Youth for Peace Movement and the similar organizations. Their colorful Muslim / ethnic attire contrasted with the casual clothes of the Christians. Despite the cultural and religious differences the youthful participants carried on lively, sometimes funny discussions.
But what especially touched me was the opening prayers of the Lumad and the Muslim youth participants. They specifically prayed for peace – for Mindanao, for Marawi City, for their own community. I may not share their religious beliefs but I do share their yearning for peace.
To these young people the absence of peace is real and personal. To them inner peace is important; but it best thrives in a community where they can study, work, raise a family in safety and security – free from violence and strife.
On the evening after the resurrection of Jesus the disciples huddled in a locked room. Afraid of the Jews, they sought security and comfort in being together. Jesus came to them and His first words to them were “Peace be with you!” The Lord knew the that peace of the Lord, the pax domini, was what they needed at that hour.
As we receive the peace of the Lord during worship from the pastor and share it with others, let us remember those who long and work for a just and tangible peace in their communities -– in the Philippines, in Syria, in Afghanistan, in Africa and other parts of the world. We all need the Pax Domini these days more than ever.