Priest: “Peace to all.”
People: “And with your spirit.”
Deacon: “Let us love one another…”
(Byzantine Divine Liturgy, just before the “Kiss of Peace”)
It is in and by the grace of the Holy Spirit that the priest shares with all of us, and we share with him and all others in our midst, in the gift of “peace.” Shortly before the central prayer of Divine Liturgy, the Anaphora, when we (re)-affirm this, our God-given “peace” with “all,” – the “peace from above,” both we and our priest are reminded of this fact, as cited above.
As St. John Chrysostom explains to his congregation in a homily given on Pentecost, the main celebrant at Divine Liturgy “does not touch the offerings before he himself has begged for you the grace of the Lord, and you cry in answer to him: ‘And with your spirit.’ By this reply you are also reminded that he who is there does nothing, and that the right offering of the gifts is not a work of human nature, but that the mystic sacrifice is brought about by the grace of the Holy Spirit and his hovering over all. For he who is there is a man, it is God who works through him.” (PG 50: 459)
We don’t “all” share the specific, sacramental role of our ordained priests. But we do share in their calling to be participants in, and channels of, the “peace” and other gifts of the grace of the Holy Spirit. Thus St. Paul greets all of us, saying, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit brethren. Amen.” (Gal 6: 18) Let me embrace the Spirit of Christ this morning, letting Him abide in me, as He wants to abide in all of us, that we may “let” ourselves “love one another.” Amen!