“Go in peace, honoring God by your life.” “Thanks be to God.”
The words “Go in peace” are not just nice words to nod our heads to because we agree with them in theory. To literally “go in peace” is an incredible challenge. As we reflect on what these words mean, we begin to realize just how transforming our liturgies are supposed to be. We begin to see that, because of our baptism as Christians, we are called to be different. We are called to be holy—a people “set apart.” We begin to realize that to “go in peace” means much more than to leave with a good feeling. It means that we leave church; after attending Mass, a prayer service or Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, with the intention of making peace happen in our personal lives and in what happens around us.
We are not just people who feel compelled to be nice to our brothers and sisters only. The peacemaking we do is in the name of the Lord. In the creed, we proudly proclaim our faith in a triune God—God who creates us, God who lived among us and redeems us, and God whom we experience in the depth of our being. This is the God we love and serve and take with us when we leave church. This is the God in whose name we are sent.
We are asked to honor God by our life by acting against injustice, violence, war, prejudice—anything and everything that gets in the way of our loving one another. We must also do the small, everyday things that strengthen our relationships with those around us. And we are also responsible to act as part of the human family. On a global level our love calls us to fulfill responsibilities that we cannot ignore. We go forth to act as priests, making Jesus present to the world. We go forth to act as prophets, speaking on behalf of the oppressed and bringing hope to those in despair. We go forth to act as kings, serving and protecting the vulnerable and providing for the needs of others. We go forth recognizing that Jesus is present not only in the bread and wine that we have just received but also in “the poor, the sick, and the imprisoned” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1373).
We cannot leave church with our own agenda, expecting to do things our own way. We serve our God and not ourselves. It must be God's path we take, God's words we speak, and God's actions we perform. It must be God's will that is done. We are sent forth, with God's blessing, to do God's bidding. Again, this is not an easy task, because to serve the Lord means to serve our neighbor. To serve the Lord is something that we do not do in church but in our homes, neighborhoods, and workplaces. To make matters more challenging, God's will quite often runs counter to our human instincts. God's will can also be maddeningly mysterious. This is where faith comes in. It takes faith to serve the Lord. It takes great faith to respond in a way counter to what others expect, in a way that seemingly isolates us, making us look different or strange.
Given all the above, when we are sent forth our response should not be “I am glad that’s over”, It must be a resounding “Thanks be to God.” When we say these words, we are doing more than thanking God for what we have experienced in the past hour or so. We are showing gratitude for the trust that God places in us to be Christ's loving presence in the world.BACK TO LIST