By Archbishop Michael Jackels
As a way to prepare to receive the Eucharist reverently in Holy Communion the people are invited to offer a sign of peace to the people standing near them.
The priest celebrant has the option of omitting this invitation. But that it is optional, or if the option is taken does not mean that the exchange of a sign of peace is not important.
The sign of peace is inspired by the teaching of Jesus that friendship with God requires at the very least the absence of animosity with any and every other person.
We may not be at odds with the people seated around us at Mass, but the sign is a reminder for us to seek reconciliation with people we have offended or who have offended us, in order to avoid the hypocrisy of claiming friendship with Jesus while being enemies with others.
Even though the invitation is to offer “the” sign of peace, there is no required way to express it. We might offer it by an embrace, a handshake, a bow, or a verbal greeting.