Just a word… Second Sunday of Easter…
Just a word… Second Sunday of Easter… April 11, 2021
When Jesus entered the locked room where the disciples were hiding out of fear, the absolute best words for Him to utter were “Peace be with you.” Peace was in short supply, as this was a sad group…discouraged, disheartened, bewildered…and the unexpected appearance of the risen Jesus among them revived their spirits, and gave them hope that all that Jesus had told them might be true. A second time Jesus says, “Peace be with you,” adding “as the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Jesus is upping the ante for the disciples, by raising their status from being his followers (disciples) to that of being apostles…those who are sent to spread the Good News. We hear “Peace be with you” for the third time a week later when a questioning Thomas is now among the disciples, again in a locked room into which the Lord appears. For these contemporary followers, seeing was believing.
The fascinating detail about the risen Christ appearing in their midst is that he had a body…the Lord did not appear as a cloud, or a pillar of fire, or a floating ball of light a` la Spielberg, but in a body…his body, transformed, yes, but still bearing the scars of his torture and death. Why the scars? Perhaps the Lord was showing that his love was so deep that despite the scars and the dying, he loved us into and beyond death. Or maybe he was letting the disciples see that their wounded bodies would also be transformed into glorified bodies, albeit recognizable by their wounds. Then again, it could have been to show that believing in him would not eliminate suffering, wounds or wrinkles, but that the promise of resurrection in the flesh was worth the leap of faith. Whatever Jesus’ intent, the fact is that the Lord unlocked the hearts of those in that locked room into becoming apostles, who in turn passed their faith on to us.
But what of us, we who do not have the privilege of seeing the risen Christ in the flesh? Or do we? Jesus also says in this Gospel, “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” How is it that we continue to believe? Perhaps this is where the beauty of community comes in. The disciples had their group who witnessed the risen Christ and could support one another’s faith in the years that followed. Who supports us when we doubt, when we question, when we falter on our journeys of faith? I am reminded of all those in our community who have endured various forms of suffering…some more visibly than others.
Whether we are ill, have lost a job, are grieving, are lonely, or whatever wound we might carry, we are examples to one another of perseverance in the face of hardship. It could be that we represent what is meant by the risen Lord lives in the church.
Jesus might have appeared to the disciples in his body to teach them, and us, that we, in our bodies, are his instruments in bringing new life to the world. The power of the Resurrection was brought to earth by his body and remains here, flowing through our bodies. Do we see that? Antoine de St. Exupery, in The Little Prince, writes: “It is only with the heart that one sees rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
As we continue to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus, let us remember that we need faith in the resurrection of the body now more than ever, in this time of avoiding one another’s touch. Let us proceed with the eyes of our hearts as we continue the Lord’s work of forgiving, setting captives free, and bringing peace to our world, through our bodies.