Jen Kowieski ’97,’20 MA
Notre Dame Club of Greater Boston

Over the past two years as a Catholic school teacher trying to lead a school community safely through a pandemic, I have realized how often I confuse peace with the experience of ease.

I have been on my knees praying for an easier week ahead throughout many Sunday Masses. Not surprisingly, those prayers were rarely answered in the way I expected. What was unexpected was finding an answer during the physical exercise of a mindful stretching class.

To be clear, I am anything but flexible. However, through the analogy of a pendulum, I began to understand something new about the discomfort of challenging stretches. Life, like a stretch, might bring us some pain. But life, like a pendulum, keeps moving. We won’t be in one pose, nor this present discomfort, forever. How can we find peace in our temporary pain instead of looking for what brings ease?

In today’s gospel, Jesus invites us to find peace amid discomfort. As Jesus is about to send his disciples out into the world, he knows that spreading the message of radical inclusivity, unconditional love, and authentic forgiveness will bring deeply challenging moments for the disciples. Yet he begins the commissioning of the disciples with the words, “Peace be with you.”

How can it be possible to feel peace in the face of extraordinary challenges? I am still working through that question, but it seems that when my words and actions are rooted in love, strength is present. Challenging conversations and decisions are still uncomfortable. But when I pause, I can feel peace underneath the temporary discomfort.

This week ahead, bringing God’s love to others might require us to move well beyond what is easy or comfortable. How will we respond to these situations? Will we seek the path of temporary ease, or will we go the route of lasting peace?