I had an interesting experience at Mass this morning. During the Kiss of Peace, the man behind me gripped my hand and, looking me in the eyes, slowly said (these were not his exact words, but close), “Peace be with you. May you experience the peace of Christ through me.” Our encounter lasted about three or four times as long as the usual “Peace of Christ,” which is often accompanied by a brief touch of the hand and little or no eye contact. (The exception to the quick brush is family and friends, who often exchange hugs and loving greetings.) I really felt his attention on me and the sincerity of his words and I was deeply moved.
I know many people are not big fans of the Kiss of Peace. They have varied reasons for finding this element of the Mass uncomfortable or inappropriate.
I’ve never had any discomfort with the ritual; actually I kind of like it. But I wonder what different it might make if, instead of rushing to offer the kiss of peace to as many people as one possibly can reach before the priest begins to recite, or the cantor begins to sing, the “Lamb of God,” we just offered it to one to two as though we really mean it: making eye contact, really touching the other person, saying the words carefully and intentionally.
Just a thought.