Peace be with you
11 Apr 2021
“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." - John 20:19
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ:
Following the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus, the Apostles hid themselves out of fear. They locked the doors and barred the windows. I am sure that they heard every sound, waiting for that one knock that would bring about their own arrest and even suffer crucifixion, by the Romans, as their Lord. But that evening, following the Resurrection, our Lord appeared to them. For whatever reason, Thomas was not present. “Peace be with you” was how Jesus greeted them. Peace. His greeting was intended to calm their fears; it was intended to give them confidence and courage in place of the terror and dread they must have felt. His calming words were to transform them from extreme fear to great rejoicing. Again, Jesus said to them “Peace be with you” It was His assurance to them that He was indeed was with them.” He would greet them again, with Thomas present, which took place a week later, with the same message “Peace be with you.”
In Luke 19:41-44, we read the following: “As He [Jesus] approached Jerusalem and saw the city, He wept over it and said, “If you had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.”
Jesus, called the “Prince of Peace’, wept over Jerusalem, the “City of Peace”, for He foresaw the destruction of Jerusalem, by the Romans beginning in 67 AD and culminating with the destruction of the Jewish Temple in 70 AD. I am sure that today, He weeps over the chaos and violence in so many cities in our great nation. At this time last year, there were over 37,000 souls who lost their lives to the Coronavirus. Now, a year later, over 562,000 have died. So many more have wept, in so many other cities, not only over the loss of departed loved ones but also over the loss of homes, small businesses, jobs and key essentials such as food. I believe in the resilience of people, who have turned to God in prayer, seeking strength and guidance through His presence during all these difficult times. As Christ comes among us, He comes not only with a message of peace but also a mission. “As the Father has sent Me, so I send you.” He has called upon us, to go forth, as His disciples, to bring forth His peace and love but also service to others in need. We are reminded of the Parable of Judgement as found in Matthew 25:31-46 that “As often as you have done it to the least of the brethren, you have done it to me.” Maybe this is the “oneness” that He prays for all of us to have.
We learn from catechetical instruction, that there exists in Christianity a spiritual marriage, a bond between Christ, as the bridegroom, and His Church, as His bride. We also learn that we, as members of His Church, are His Body. We find this concept in St. Paul’s first Letter to the Corinthians 12:13: “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of the one Spirit.”
The truth is that Christ needs us and is dependent upon us, for we are called upon to be His hands, His feet, His voice, and His heart. We, in turn, need to seek Christ, as our Bread of Life, for as we call upon Him, in prayer, He gives us spiritual strength, sustenance and guidance. Jesus has given us a message “to go forth” and share this message of hope, compassion, mercy, love, and peace. To carry out His mission, He gave His Church, not only the wisdom, but the power of the Holy Spirit. Did He not breathe on His disciples that evening and say: “Receive the Holy Spirit?” Did not He also say: “Come to me all you who labor and are heavily laden and I will give you rest?” My brothers and sisters, Jesus offers us today a peace in times of personal trial, personal troubles, chaos, and confusion. It is found whenever we bring Him into our hearts and witness Him to others.
Peace is a most powerful word that recalls how the Lord comes to each of us this Easter season. Amid all the problems we have today in our world, His peace is not found outside of ourselves or in our society, but rather begins within ourselves. It is in the quietness of our own “upper room,” where we shut off the confusion and chaos of the outside world, where we can begin to perceive the peace which Jesus brings to us. When we truly come to believe, like Thomas came to believe, that the Lord is alive in our lives, then we can begin to understand His peace and find that solace, strength and assurance. This statement of faith is confirmed in the words of the first Letter of Peter 1:8-9: “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and although you do not now see Him you believe in Him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy. As the outcome of your faith, you obtain the very salvation of your souls.”
Rev. Fr. Robert M. Koerber