Grace to you!
Whenever I read the letters of Saint Paul and come across his typical opening greetings, such as the one in Romans 1:7, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ", I feel connected immensely to the power of that greeting. In my opinion, one of the best greetings ever is to wish someone grace and peace.
Many cultures have different ways of opening greetings such as hello, hi, greetings, shalom, how dear, etc. Such greetings are casual or, at best, signs of politeness. In communication terminology, they are called phatic (those communications that convey emotions of politeness rather than information).
In the case of Saint Paul’s greetings, he greets and prays at the same time. His greetings are not casual or mere politeness. They are intentional wishes for blessing for the addressed. I love the greeting, "Grace to you." I adopted it as my signature opening greetings for reflections, religious television and radio programs I host for good reason.
To wish someone grace is to wish the person salvation. It is to wish the person God's life, since grace is God. We know from our basic Christian theology that salvation is by the grace of God. To be in grace is to be the best you can.
Peace is a goal toward which we journey. Greeting someone with peace is a usual greeting for the Arabs and the Jews. Along the streets of Jerusalem, you hear “Shalom” (peace) very frequently till this day. No surprise the Lord would greet his disciples: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you” (Jn 14:27). It was a consistent pattern of his greetings to the disciples after the resurrection too.
The Lord’s greeting of peace isn’t simply casual. It conveys a unique reality to those who accept those words. Scripture tells us “Christ is our peace” (Eph 2:14). Hence, when peace (Christ) is greeting you, I bet you need not go anywhere else to possess it. The Lords greetings of peace is deepened and loaded with powerful reality.
Saint Augustine defined peace in social affairs as “The tranquility of order.” However, regarding the peace of Christ, he describes it differently in his De verbis Domini, sermon 58, connecting it to “serenity of soul” which, according to him, is possible only in Christ. Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen says this peace is different from peace of mind. It is peace of soul coming from Christ, our peace.
Thus, to wish someone peace is a profound prayer for the peace of soul that comes from God. Peace of soul, I suppose, is all everyone wants so they have that kind of serenity, which is joyful, reassuring and saving. As Archbishop Sheen says, when people have peace of soul, peace in society and in the world could be possible. Because no one will give peace if they don’t have it.
It is peace within, peace of soul, that helps us to overcome the injustice, greed, hate and anger that lead to what Pope Francis calls, “not lack of peace but chaos.”
To be saved and live in peace is the greatest blessing of life. Grace and peace come from God the Father and the Son, as Saint Paul shows in his greetings (Rom 1:7). Therefore, to wish people grace and peace is to wish them divine providence for what they need now (grace) and what they desire (peace).
I wish you grace and peace. May you please wish others, especially those who oppose you, the unloved and the hopeless, the same.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Monday Week 28 Ordinary Time A: Rom 1:16-25; Lk 11:29-32]
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.