On February 24, 1981, Pope John Paul II celebrated the first Mass in Japan ever celebrated by a pope. He began his homily, in Japanese, by quoting John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” The Holy Father went on to teach that these are the words of Christ to His disciples, and that these words are addressed as much to us today as they were to the disciples then, for “In this way, Christ Himself every day shares with us His peace, just as He shares with us his Body and Blood in the Eucharistic species … From this place, in which the Eucharistic liturgy is celebrated, the sign of peace spreads out in great waves to people, to families, to neighborhoods, to nations, to the whole human family.”
The Sign of Peace is not simply an expression of goodwill, nor is it just a greeting. It is something that we are given in and through Christ and a way of living to which we are called. We do not simply wish for peace for others; we ourselves become peace, and we give witness to the Peace of Christ through the manner of our lives and through our relationships.
Christ calls us to love our neighbor as our self and to pray for those who persecute us. This is only possible if we become that to which we are called: a vessel for the peace of Christ, so that through us God’s peace may spread to our families, neighborhoods, the nation, to our whole human family.