April 5, 2018
This weekend’s Gospel presents us with a scene of the disciples after Jesus’ death. They are afraid. They are on their own. So, they do what seems natural—they locked themselves in a room for protection. They surmise that this will keep them safe. This will keep them secure. But, how will they ever continue Jesus’ mission in such circumstances? It is like the verses from the song The Rose: “It’s the heart afraid of breaking that never learns to dance; it’s the dream afraid of waking that never takes a chance.” Left to their own insecurities and fears, the disciples are locked, not only in the room, but in their hearts. Trying to protect themselves, they are unable to reach out to others. But into this scene of despair and fear and self-protection enters Jesus with his words of healing: “Peace be with you!” Jesus has said so much in these words! These words indicate that Jesus knows and understands their pain. These words indicate that Jesus forgives their failures. These words indicate that Jesus’ forgiveness brings peace, which is the fruit of love.
And Thomas. He was not present when Jesus first appeared to the disciples and now he stands alone in his “unbelief.” Despite the testimony of his brothers, Thomas wants “proof.” Once again, in this new situation of one in need of healing, Jesus says, “Peace be with you!” Thomas experiences the healing that he needs and he is once again part of the community . . . ”for where two or three are gathered, I am in their midst!” These disciples have changed radically. From frightened men locked in a room, they break forth into the world proclaiming the good news that the one who has brought peace to them is alive. They now have a new song in their hearts: “No storm can shake my inmost calm, while to that rock I'm clinging. Since love is lord of heaven and earth how can I keep from singing?”