Text: The Holy Gospel According to St. John 20: 19-31
Peace or Fear?
Which will it be for us?
I know of a man that has an enemy who speaks negatively and with great hostility toward his Catholic faith, the faith delivered to our fathers, the faith built within the structure of the Church that Jesus built upon the Rock. Nevertheless, this man stands firmly upon the faith of our fathers. The Holy Spirit gives strength in ways that make him less than fear filled. Instead, he is at peace with God and has the peace of God within his heart, because his faith is founded upon the Gospel here.
The Mercy of God reached down to where he was and moved him into the place that is made by God for our Mother in the desert.
So, many have the peace... a peace that passes all understanding.
Jesus proclaims to us Peace... because he has made for us peace with God.
There is now no need for fear.
But, this is the work of the Holy Spirit, and, when this Gospel speaks of the disciples in this room, they were not yet given this power. Nevertheless, it is Jesus who stands in their midst offering them all - his Peace.
"On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side."
Jesus showed them his hands and his side. He stood in their midst. I believe it is Jesus who is our Peace. We have great Peace with God through the merits of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. His hands and his side - pierces hands and side - show us the work of God for us he did upon the Cross.
When I look upon the crucifix and see the image of Jesus upon the Cross-I think of the hands and feet and the side, the five wounds, that he had for us. And, I think of the whips that shredded the flesh of our Lord and Savior - great Mercy came through those stripes. By these stripes we are healed, beloved.
What cost God paid in the Son of God - it brings to mind the words as the priest holds up the chalice and the paten with the Host and, lifting them up, sings -- "Per ipsum, et cum ipso, et in ipso, est tibi Deo Patri omnipotenti, in unitate Spiritus Sancti, omnis honor et Gloria per omnia saecula saeculorum."
In the unity of the Holy Spirit,
All glory and honor is yours,
Almighty Father, for ever and ever!"
Yes, amen, truly it is so... now and forever!
So, with Jesus in their midst alive, as with us... forever!
"Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."
Here is the message of reconciliation; the sacrament of reconciliation is breathed out of the Mouth of Jesus with the words that give special ministry to his priesthood.
How awesomely important is this Sacrament.
Do we allow it to become commonplace and less than honored for the grace it brings to the Church?
It is a great Bishop that calls for the practice of frequent Sacramental Reconciliation for the truly penitent child of God. It is the greatest of priests who make themselves available to bring this ministry to the penitent.
R.H. Benson said - "The reconciling of a soul to God is a greater thing than the reconciling of the east to west." ("Lord of the World.")
Chaucer wrote of a confessor - "Full sweetly heard he confession, And pleasant was his absolution." (Canterbury Tales, Prologue)
May we have more confessors that understand this sweetness, as did the disciples who were also in the Presence of Jesus Christ Risen from the dead! Peace be with you!
"Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe."
So many of us demand of God a Personal touch.
We will not believe unless we have God alone touch us. The "community experience" is not "enough" for us. We must have that touch from God that is for us alone. We say -- "Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe."
And, we then go our way, living a less than fruitful existence.
But, Jesus also hears the Thomas' of the world and makes them saints as well.
It is like a "circumcising of the heart" for St. Thomas eight days later. On the eighth day of Passover week, Feast of Unleavened Bread, Passover Day, then, on First fruits, the morrow after the Sabbath - the eight day - Jesus rose from the dead. Now, on the eighth day after the day the disciples saw Jesus - Thomas sees Jesus and experiences a cutting away to his flesh and a sanctification he longed for...the doors were still shut... there was fear... the second touch was coming.
"Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, "Peace be with you."
It was the same message from the Prince of Peace! Peace be with you. It is always the same for us all.
The eyes of Jesus narrow upon Thomas in Love and Mercy. It is Divine Mercy's Sunday.
"Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing." Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe."
What Mercy to be given the grace to believe and not to have seen...
"Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name."
Perhaps, we are the books that these signs and wonders are to be written in through the graces God has for us, beloved. Perhaps, this is the calling of Mary our Mother to us, as we attend to that place the God has prepared for her and the remnant of her Seed in the desert where we are called to live with her?
Let us be thankful and praise God and give all glory to him for the Mercy of God and the Peace be with you he speaks to us.