How to “Go in Peace, Glorifying the Lord by your Life”
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Do you ever think about these words said to us by the priest at the end of Mass? Too often, I’m flicking through the hymn book to find the last hymn, and I miss their significance. Every phrase said in the Mass is there because it is important, so this isn’t just a convenient way for the priest to sign off and depart the sanctuary. We really are meant to go in peace! And we really are meant to glorify the Lord by our lives! But how?
I think we understand the big things we can do in our lives to glorify God. We know the big changes, sacrifices and commitments that we make for our faith. We may already do some beautiful things with our lives for the glory of God; raising a family, running a church youth group, helping the elderly, grafting hard to support ourselves in a job. If we’re already doing that, however, how can we continue to ‘glorify the Lord by our lives’- our day-to-day lives? Here are some tiny ways we can do this.
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First, Go in Peace!
During the Mass, we bring ourselves to God- our whole selves. We bring our joys, struggles, heartbreaks, frustrations, boredom and sin and we give it all to the Lord. In return, He gives us His whole self in the Eucharist and we are told to go in peace. Have you ever met a person who is at peace with themselves? They are often full of light and very joyful to be around. They can give a lot of themselves because they know to Whom they belong and that they are loved.
After the Mass, we dive right back into our busy lives. Going in peace does not mean that we float away from Mass and exist in a perfect bubble of unrealistic tranquillity. No, true peace is much stronger than that. Going in Peace means that we can leave Mass and head back into our fragile, stressful and maybe at times sorrowful lives, yet remaining strong in the conviction that we are loved, we are not alone, and that Christ suffers everything with us. It is a strength that we can carry deep within our hearts; it sustains us in every situation and setting.
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In John’s Gospel, the disciples are hiding together in one room after the events of the Crucifixion. Suddenly, Jesus appears among them. It is the first time He has seen most of them after His passion. Does He start berating them, calling them out for their betrayals of Him in His greatest hour of need? Does He upbraid them for hiding away in the room? No, the first thing He immediately says is “Peace be with you.” (John 20: 19-23)
Now for the ‘Glorifying the Lord with Your Life Part!
The best way we can glorify God in the little things in life is by acting with integrity in all we do. According to Google, the word ‘integrity’ has two meanings, both of which are relevant here:
“the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles” and “the state of being whole and undivided”
Having integrity means that we do all we can to live a life where nothing is at odds with who we are as Christians- where someone could see that there is no part of our life, no matter how small, that clashes with our faith. This doesn’t mean we act like cold, emotionless robots with no personality, or only do overtly Christian things, but it does mean that we strive to live a life where we give value to the little things of our lives and make sure that they matter too.
There are ways we can glorify the Lord with our lives that are so small they may not even seem important. Yet Christ came into our world and became small for us too, that in His littleness we too could share something of His glory.
Have you thought about these little things? Here is a list (by no means exhaustive) to get you thinking.
1. Reduce how much you use your headphones in public. Even if you don’t have conversations with strangers, being aware of who is around you and what their needs might be is better than constantly cutting yourself from the world via earbuds.
2. When talking to people, give them your full and undivided attention. Don’t check your phone or be busy with something else. Look them in the eye and let them know you care.
3. Be patient when you are driving.
4. Do one job at a time, carefully and calmly until it is done.
5. At work or in study, focus on what you are doing and don’t procrastinate online.
6. Be creative with your language: swearing is lazy! Think about what the words actually mean when you swear! Find something else to say instead!
7. Pick your clothes up off the floor- respect yourself and your space.
8. Make your bed in the morning.
9. Take care not to make facetious remarks that others may interpret as offensive, even if you don’t mean it that way.
10. Be careful with exaggerations, especially when talking to other people, so as to always keep things with the truth and to avoid gossip.
11. Offer praise to God in your heart whenever you can.
12. Don’t hit the snooze button but say yes to waking life every morning.
Often we can think that the small things don’t matter. But it is doing the small things well that builds us into people of integrity, and it is these small things that others notice and comment on. It is in these small things that others see a witness of our faith. We are called to be people of light- and in that very way, we can glorify the Lord by our lives.