Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”
A bit easier said than done (unless we work on it)! Peace is not something we are born with, it is something we learn, and we practice. We even have to remind ourselves to practice it again and again.
And it is Jesus’ message to us. It is the first thing he says to the disciples upon seeing them again. He has just been crucified, abandoned by his friends, betrayed by Judas Iscariot, denied by Peter - and yet his greeting is “Peace be with you.”
Today we are invited into that teaching with Jesus and his disciples. They are still hiding out after the crucifixion. Jesus manages to appear even behind locked doors.
It is in this room where we encounter Jesus, and he commissions them to go. “Jesus said to them again, 'Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’”
He breaths the Holy Spirit upon them.
The Holy Spirit is considered God at work in the world. Jesus intends for them to carry on this work.
Not only has he given them the gift of Peace, but Jesus gives them the the deeper knowledge behind forgiving sins. He says if you forgive them they are forgiven. If you retain them they are retained.
Also easier said than done.
We aren’t born into forgiveness either, it is something we have to cultivate and practice, like Peace (again and again).
When we forgive we are released from our suffering. We stop the circle of tormenting resentments that suck away our life and joy.
When we forgive it releases others from a domino effect of reactionary activity: “tat for tat”
and "an eye for an eye.”
Jesus links these two important aspects of new community.
peace and forgiveness
It is the new community for those who have been born into the fellowship of Christ’s body.
It involves peace and forgiveness.
As the collect says, The paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation.
We are brought together with one another and God through forgiveness.
It is not easy, but it does transform us.
Jesus models this for us through his life ministry, but especially here in this locked room,
We see him completely transformed post resurrection.
We see him forgiving the world and forgiving his friends.
Currently his friends are a bit stuck. Grief and fear have a way of doing that to us.
He has come back to free them from this room, from their fear, and from their guilt.
He has come to set us all free, even Thomas who thought he might be left out! What is the phrase we use today: FOMO (fear of missing out)!
Thomas is experiencing that feeling in spades…
And even though we associate this story with the phrase, “don’t be a doubting Thomas,” Thomas is not afraid of engaging God. Thomas is not afraid to engage with the wounds Jesus had to bear either.
While we rotate our readings in a three year cycle, we read about the locked room, the fearful disciples, and Thomas every year.
I believe this is so, because all of us have doubts. And this story lets us explore them through Thomas. Thomas responds reactively because he is hurt. Why would God reveal himself to my brothers, but not to me?
But Thomas doesn’t leave the community because he is skeptical. Rather Thomas engages deeper with God. Thomas is not simply a model of doubt, but a model of honesty. He doesn’t remain a stranger to God. He says "it like it is." He isn’t afraid to engage in intimate dialogue with God.
On Palm Sunday I spoke about Simon (the carrier of the cross) being the best part of us on our very worst day.
Thomas mirrors us on a regular day; a day that requires work not to become reactionary; A day when we have to remind ourselves to be peaceful; a day when we struggle to get out and share the message of peace and forgiveness. And on those days, these regular days, we can remember that Jesus is there with his wounds. Jesus completely relates to our frailty, our suffering and our struggle.
And he says touch me.
Jesus says, “Blessed are those that Believe but have not seen.” This is us, and it is Thomas’s intimate relationship with Jesus who helps us into this space through our own pain and doubt. Thomas in his honesty and love delivers us into the moment.
Jesus shows up as resurrected in the fullness of his spirit, of God’s Spirit.
This Bodily resurrection we speak about, has to do with that fullness of Spirit…that we like Jesus will be resurrected in the fullness of our being.
As Christians we are working at growing into that fullness of our being through growing in wisdom, forgiveness and as bearers of peace (as we say in our baptismal vows).
As the body of Christ we also carry one another’s wounds. When we doubt, or struggle with our belief, another one of us, another part of the body can carry us the rest of the way. We buoy one another.
This is Christian Community.
We don’t do it alone. We live into the resurrection together one regular day at a time.
Go in Peace! To love and serve the Lord!