On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”  When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.  The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.  [Jesus] said to them again, “Peace be with you.  As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” (Jn 20:19-21)

My dear friends in Christ,

As the disciples huddled together behind locked doors, they were gripped by many emotions.  First was the overwhelming grief.  How would they get along without Jesus, in whom they had centered their lives?  Perhaps even stronger was the fear.  Would the same fate meet them outside the locked doors?  As they sat, paralyzed by grief and fear, Jesus, bearing the marks of his crucifixion, suddenly stood before them.  And he spoke the words they longed to hear:  “Peace be with you.”  Nothing changed in their external circumstances.  Danger still lurked outside of the locked doors.  They didn’t know exactly what they would face or what challenges would present themselves.  But their grief and fear were transformed by Jesus’ word into that deep, abiding peace which surpasses all understanding (cf. Phil 4:7).  Whatever they would encounter and whatever life would bring them, they lived with a deep peace that came from the assurance that, come what may, Jesus would always be with them.

All of the Easter readings have taken on new meaning this year and this passage from the Gospel of John is no different.  As we isolate in our homes, can we not relate to the fear the disciples felt about what they would encounter outside the locked doors? Our fears are not unfounded. The coronavirus is wreaking havoc on individuals and families throughout the world and in our own community. We do well to abide by all of the directives meant to mitigate the spread of the virus in support of the common good. But we need not be paralyzed by fear. Just as surely as Jesus restored peace to his disciples’ hearts that first Easter evening, he is just as present to us now, in this very

Jesus also sends us forth to be bearers of his love and peace to those who are suffering around us.  The grace that seems to be emerging from this crisis is that many people are coming to know more deeply their need for God and how precious we are to each other.  Even now, there is cause for rejoicing.  Christ is risen.  Truly risen.  As St. Paul reminds us:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!  Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near.  Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.  Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:4-7)

Yours in Christ Jesus, our risen Lord,

Fr. Jim

April 19: A Letter from Fr. Jim on the 2nd Sunday of Easter