Peace – It’s Getting Complicated
"Whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace to this house!'"
Luke 10:1-11, 16-20
July 1, 2022, Words By: Jenna Smith, Image By: Armin Rimoldi
When I turned 40 last summer I was told — benedicted even — by some beloved elders that this next decade is going to be one of the best of my life. “You are about to see everything you are capable of.” I welcomed their words, ready for all the confidence and wise experience to come. We are nearly twelve months later, and so far I feel neither confident, nor experienced. This year that marked both the start of my forties and of my ordination has been set on the backdrop of a peaceless, upset world. Weariness and hesitation have been my companions, a far cry from the experience and wisdom I was promised.
For those of us who believe firmly in our missional calling to be makers and bearers of incarnational peace (artisans of peace as described by St.Francis), things are getting…complicated.
It feels like everyone’s angry (including me.)
It feels like people are being meaner (including me.)
The call to peace, in all of its complex, costly, extensive, nuanced layers, is now feeling rather akin to a call of vulnerability. It is the vulnerability that strikes me in this week’s lectionary reading. Jesus sends out his disciples, two by two, to bring this costly, complex, extensive message of peace to foreign villages, unknown houses, strange countrymen.
A message of peace, not without its risks and dangers, borne only by two people at a time.
Do you ever feel like your message would better succeed if you just had the sheer numbers? The votes at the ballot? The millions of protestors on the street? The limitless resources at your fingertips? The power of office or influence?
It would seem that Jesus recognizes these instinctive desires for numbers, influence and resources, and then sets his 70 peacemakers in the opposite direction.
In this context, Jesus shows that his Way of Peace will come through the Way of vulnerability. It will come through the Way of the few (only two). It will come through the Way of the guest (“Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid.”) It will come through the Way of rootedness (“Do not move about from house to house.”)
And it will also come through the Way of boundaries (“But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you.’”) This verse has often been read as a permission to condemn. And while the language is condemnatory (wipe off the dust in protest of you!), the boundary can also be read as a kindness towards the peace-bearer. It is a permission to withdraw when one is opposed to their invitation. The message of peace cannot be forced; that would do violence to the messenger and the receiver.
Finally, just in case the blueprint for the peacemaker’s posture was not perfectly clear, Jesus gives his 70 one final caveat to the ONLY power — the power of spiritual authority — that has been explicitly consecrated to them: “Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
The demons may submit to you, Satan may fall like a flash of lightning. And even then, don’t bask in this power.
If we internalize this last directive, “rejoice that your names are written in heaven”, we may surmise that the Way of Peace contains in it one last path: The Way of the Long.
Lord, grow in us the steadfastness and the patience for your Long Way of Peace.
Dwelling Among Us
What are some concrete examples or actions that you can put into practice by taking the Way of vulnerability, the Way of the guest, the Way of rootedness or the Way of the long this week?