Eucharist: Liturgy of the Sacrament (Peace and Offertory)
At the Peace the priest says:
“The peace of the Lord be always with you”. (1)
These words remind us of Our Risen Lord’s Easter greeting to his disciples. And the priest may say:
“Let us offer one another a sign of peace”. (2)
So we turn and greet those near us in the church with a sign of peace and we repeat the words of Jesus, “Peace be with you”.
Peace be with you (Shalom) was an ordinary Jewish form of greeting or farewell. But before he was crucified, when his enemies were gathering to kill him, Jesus had said to his Apostles “Peace I leave to you; my peace I give to you. I do not give you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid” (NRSV, John 14:27). So the peace which Jesus was talking about was more special than that conveyed by the good wishes of the ordinary Jewish greeting. His peace was an inward peace which came from his union with God his Father, a lasting peace which is not affected by the troubles and difficulties of life. (3) This is a peace which comes to people who are faithful to Jesus and it assures them of his presence and support throughout their lives. (4)
So when we say “Peace be with you” to other people, it should not be something automatic that we just ‘do’ at that part of the Eucharist. No, we should look at them and remember that we are saying a prayer for them and are asking God to give them a very special gift.