Monday of Holy Week found us with 9 inches of snow…at least at my home. Winter has to have its last word! It was Thursday until the greater part of the snow melted and I could take Leisel out to the back yard. There out of the mulch and dead leaves in my garden where the beautiful deep purple reticulated iris with their fine leaves and pedals. It was a shout in the cold wind that spring was coming and no wintry weather or snow was going to keep it away forever. There is a belief deep within us that whispers life is coming again. Resurrection and new life are a lived reality.
The Gospel this evening seems fitted just for us. The disciples were gathered in the upper room close to evening. They were reeling from all the events of the previous days. Jesus, their Teacher and the one they believed would be their leader was crucified like a common criminal, died, and was buried. Now the women said that he had risen and Mary Magdala gave testimony of her encounter with the living Jesus. They had seen the empty tomb. The disciples were sad, confused, unnerved, withdrawn and paralyzed in this upper room behind closed and locked doors. They, who had run away, denied Jesus, were there with their emotions and uncertainty.
Jesus comes in quiet and serenity and bids them Peace. Peace be with you he says again. There is no anger, no accusations, no finger pointing, no questions of them…like what happened to you guys when the going got rough? You left me! Jesus accepted them where they were…broken, sad, not understanding, confused. Again he wishes them peace. He shows Thomas his wounds because he needed something more and not just the word of the others. There was no chiding or shaming. In their emotional, psychological, physical state of mind Jesus breathed on them the Holy Spirit.
Is this not what happens to us? Is this not our story as well? We close the doors of our hearts and the windows of our mind in our confusion, sadness and fear. We lock ourselves away in the best security systems that we can find. When we are in our greatest shut-down self, unforgiving self, ego-centered self the Spirit of the Risen Christ breaks in and says to us Peace. Peace.
The story from Acts, reflects a Peter that had received that Peace and growth of faith in the Resurrected Jesus. The poor, sick, lame, were waiting for Peter’s shadow that was healing. The confused, hurting, poor are waiting for our shadow and the healing that is our part of the ministry of healing to give.
Once upon a time all feelings and emotions went to a coastal island for a vacation. According to their nature, each was having a good time. Suddenly, a warning of an impending storm was announced and everyone was advised to evacuate the island.
The announcement caused sudden panic. All rushed to their boats. Even damaged boats were quickly repaired and commissioned for duty.
Yet, Love did not wish to flee quickly. There was so much to do. But as the clouds darkened, Love realized it was time to leave. Alas, there were no boats to spare. Love looked around with hope.
Just then Prosperity passed by in a luxurious boat. Love shouted, “Prosperity, could you please take me in your boat?” “No,” replied Prosperity, “my boat is full of precious possessions, gold and silver. There is no place for you.”
A little later Vanity came by in a beautiful boat. Again Love shouted, “Could you help me, Vanity? I am stranded and need a lift. Please take me with you.” Vanity responded haughtily, “No, I cannot take you with me. My boat will get soiled with your muddy feet.”
Sorrow passed by after some time. Again, Love asked for help. But it was to no avail. “No, I cannot take you with me. I am so sad. I want to be by myself.”
When Happiness passed by a few minutes later, Love again called for help. But Happiness was so happy that it did not look around, hardly concerned about anyone.
Love was growing restless and dejected. Just then somebody called out, “Come Love, I will take you with me.” Love did not know who was being so magnanimous, but jumped on to the boat, greatly relieved that she would reach a safe place.
On getting off the boat, Love met Knowledge. Puzzled, Love inquired, “Knowledge, do you know who so generously gave me a lift just when no one else wished to help?”
Knowledge smiled, “Oh that was Time.”
“And why would Time stop to pick me and take me to safety?” Love wondered.
Knowledge smiled with deep wisdom and replied, “Because only Time knows your true greatness and what you are capable of. Only Love can bring peace and great happiness in this world.”
Source [slightly adapted]
The Risen Christ is Love made visible. We are that visible love of God. Ours is to live the peace and the message of truth. Our mission is a holy and awesome one. Like the disciples we are gathered in this upper room, some confused, some of us sad, some of us fearful, some of us here not knowing or seeing what will be asked of us and some of us in quiet joy. Together as a community of faith gathered together we are to help the larger church discern its continued mission and to live each day in Love and peace.
Seeing is not believing but rather believing is a way of seeing beyond what can blind us. This seeing is the gift of the Spirit. This is our challenge!
End with a quote from St. Francis to his followers:
“You must have peace in your hearts. Let no one be provoked to anger or scandal by you, but may they be drawn to peace and good will, to kindness and concord through your gentleness. We have been called to heal wounds, to bring together what has fallen apart, and to bring home those who have lost their way.”