"Peace be with you"
Let us give our attention to the unexpected greeting, repeated three times by the risen Jesus when he appeared to his disciples, gathered together and locked in the upper room “for fear of the Jews” (Jn 20,19). At that time this greeting must have been customary but, under the circumstances in which it was spoken, it takes on an extraordinary fullness. As you remember, this greeting is: “Peace be with you!” It was a greeting that had resounded in the angelic song at Christmas: “Peace on earth!” (Lk 2,14). This biblical greeting, which had already been effectively proclaimed as a promise of the messianic kingdom (Jn 14,27), is now passed on as a reality that takes flesh in this first core group of the emerging Church. It is the peace of a Christ triumphant over death, with its causes near or far, with its awesome effects.
Thus the risen Jesus announces and establishes peace in the disorientated souls of his disciples... It is the Lord's peace, heard in all its original significance, personal, interior, both moral and psychological, and which is inseparable from happiness – that which Saint Paul counts among the fruits of the Spirit after charity and joy, consolidated to a certain extent together with them (Gal 5,22). The union of these three fruits is not far from our common, spiritual experience. It is the best answer to our query concerning the state of our conscience, when we can say: my conscience is at peace. What is more precious for the thoughtful man of honor?...
Peace of conscience is the most authentic form of happiness. It helps us to be strong in adversity; it upholds the nobility and freedom of the person, even in the direst situations; it remains our lifeline, that is to say our hope... when despair would have the upper hand... This matchless gift of interior peace is the Risen One's first gift: he immediately instituted ... the sacrament able to bestow this peace, the sacrament of forgiveness, that forgiveness which raises us up (Jn 20,23).
Paul VI, Pope from 1963-1978