Many years ago, while on vacation, my family and I traveled northwest to see the Canadian Rocky Mountains. We drove to Banff and Jasper National Parks in Canada. We traveled along Canadian highway 1A till we reached the eastern shore of Lake Louise. There stands a massive cream colored structure that is known as the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise Hotel. While standing in front of this beautiful structure, visitors can experience a beautiful unobstructed view of the ever peaceful Lake Louise, as it stretches out in front of you, surrounded by some very high, glacier clad, mountain peaks that soar over 11,000 feet high. This peaceful lake, the beautiful mountains that surround it, a powder blue sky and a few fluffy white clouds, combine to produce an unparalleled scene of peace and tranquility.
One day, while touring the beautiful countryside that make up these two magnificent parks, we happened upon a mountain stream that was flowing very rapidly down the rather steep sloping face of one of the mountains. The stream appeared to be about twelve to fifteen feet wide. The waters billowed and foamed in the churning rapids of this little mountain stream. This stream was surrounded by a very rugged and yet very beautiful terrain. This rapidly flowing stream combined with the rocky barren surface of the mountain reminded us of a miniature version of the Niagara River. Even though the little stream was much smaller than the Niagara River, it was just as violent in its appearance.
In this rocky barren landscape that surrounded the mountain stream stood one lone little green bush that had taken root in the cracks of some of the rocks. In the branches of this bush was a small bird’s nest, and from this little nest you could hear the chirping sounds of the baby birds within.
On the rocky sides of this little mountain stream stood one small bird. This little bird was sitting motionless, perched on a rocky outcropping as it watched the churning waters of that swiftly flowing mountain stream. In the eyes of this little bird, this stream surely must have looked every bit as terrifying as the mighty Niagara.
We watched in surprise as this tiny bird dove into those churning waters and disappeared into its blue depths, wondering why in the world would that little bird do that. Moments later, this little bird surfaced way down stream, holding a small morsel of food in its beak. The item in its beak appeared to be something like a fresh water snail.
The little bird then flew directly to the nest that was in the bush, to feed the hungry chirping young birds there. Obviously this was the mother bird feeding her children. Shortly after doing this, the mother bird quickly returned to the stream and again she dove into the flowing rapids to surface, once again downstream, holding another tiny morsel of food for her young.
We sat there for a very long time, marveling at the activities of this mother bird, as she busied herself, feeding her children, seemingly oblivious to the dangers imposed by this mountain stream.
In the Gospel for the Second Sunday of Easter, we hear Jesus say, “Peace be with you”. (John 20:21)
Peace is a very powerful word. It appears over 400 times in the Sacred Scriptures. When we think of peace, we tend to think of a scene like Lake Louise, with its mirror like waters reflecting the majestic mountains, with a powder blue sky and a few fluffy white clouds as a canopy.
But we must remember that the peace of God that our Lord and Savior Jesus offers to us is found not only in a place that is free of all noise, trouble, strife and hard work. It is also found in all of life’s circumstances. Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, refers to the gift that Jesus offers as “God’s own peace, which is beyond all understanding. It will stand guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)
The Peace of God that Jesus offers will allow us to be free and at peace in the midst of life. Consider that little bird for example. She was content to spend her days finding food for her children. She had to endure the dangers of a mountain stream to do so, but she obviously found contentment in fulfilling her God given task in life; for it permitted her to bring nourishment to her children. We too can find a similar level of peace and contentment in the midst of our life.
Our Lord and Savior Jesus offers us a free gift, a gift that only God can give. Rather than focusing on the turmoil, the strife and the uncertainties that frequently lie before us, we simply need to trust God and have confidence in His divine plan for our life, faithfully following the Lord in the midst of the circumstances of our life.
It should be obvious; however, that sometimes the difficulties that we face in life are of our own creation. I was once involved in jail ministry. In that experience I learned a phrase that was commonly used in prison that accurately demonstrated the inevitable cause and effect reality of our human condition. It was, “If you can’t take the time, don’t do the crime.” Sometimes we create our own problems. But even if the difficulties that we face are a result of our own folly, we must learn to trust in the wisdom of our Heavenly Father. Our God is faithful. He will bless us with His peace if we simply trust Him. And He will lead us to the fulfillment of His divine plan for our life.
Jesus’ Easter wish to His faithful followers was “Peace be with you.” May the peace of Christ, that our Risen Lord and Savior offers, be with you, not only during this Easter season, but always.
REVEREND MR. DONALD COX is a permanent deacon of the Archdiocese of Detroit. On June 9, 1979, Deacon Don was ordained to the diaconate by His Eminence John Cardinal Dearden, an important American Father of the Second Vatican Council. He is currently assigned to St. Cornelius parish in Dryden, Michigan. Married and the father of three children and grandfather to four children, Deacon Don was born and raised in Detroit, and educated at St. Brigid Elementary School, Mackenzie High School, and Lawrence Technological University. His theological training was taken at Detroit’s Sacred Heart Major Seminary.