One week after Easter, I can totally relate to the disciples. They are huddled behind locked doors, afraid of what the Jews might do to them. They must be still in shock from the crucifixion, even though they’ve been hearing that Jesus has risen. He’s not with them in the same way that he used to be. And if Jesus could be tortured and killed as a blasphemous rebel — are they, his followers, next? From inside that locked room, things must look pretty bleak.
Imagine how the disciples felt, when Jesus showed up in that room and stood among them!
Fear can be paralyzing. How often do we shut ourselves inside a “locked room” in our minds, shrinking from things that have hurt us, barricading our hearts from what might happen? This Sunday’s Gospel offers hope: Christ crucified and risen, not just knocking on the doors of our hearts but entering into the closed space where we are hiding.
“Peace be with you,” he says.
I absolutely love what comes next, as an antidote to fear. Not “Here I am – now grab your swords and help me fight back,” but “look at my hands and my side.” It’s like he was saying, Yes, they killed me. Yes, it was awful. But look at me now! Put your fingers in those nail marks! They’re real – but I AM ALIVE, better than ever in fact. PEACE be with you. There’s no need to be afraid.
Then Jesus breathed on them new life, the life of the Holy Spirit, and armed them for battle: not with fancy words or spears and swords but with forgiveness. “As the Father has sent me, so I send you,” he said. I went out forgiving, even to the Cross, and won not death, but life! Now you go — and do the same.
Our battles are real. At whatever level you’re facing the onslaught of the Enemy, whether it’s sickness or discouragement or the loss of a job or attacks on your faith or something else: open your heart to Christ, let Jesus in where you are hiding. And be not afraid!
In the words of St. Paul to the Romans,
“in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8: 37-39)
Peace be with you on this day of Divine Mercy.
© 2019 Sarah Christmyer
- Divine Mercy: What’s it to You?
- God Calls Himself “Mercy”
- Forgiveness: What it is and How to do it
- Casting Out the Roots of Bitterness
A slightly different version of today’s post was published as “Be Not Afraid” on 4/27/2014 for the canonization of St. John Paul II.