Easter Wednesday, April 3, 2013 – John 20:19-23
I send you . . .
“Peace be with you,” Jesus said to them. “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.
When life presents us with circumstances that confuse our senses, how do we bring reality into focus? What fears do we bow to? How do we unravel ourselves from our emotions?
When family or friends hurt or disappoint us, how do we recover? How do we avoid seeking revenge? What do we do to manage our desire to control others?
When we suffer a loss that is too great to handle, how do we move forward? What do we hide? What do we reveal?
Fearful and confused, the disciples have gathered in the upper room where they shared that last meal with Jesus. We can only imagine their bewilderment when Jesus appears among them. They quiz one another about who did or did not lock the door. They quiz Jesus about how he comes to be with them. Their mourning has turned into rejoicing.
They are startled by the Teacher’s actions and words. Here he is – somehow whole and back with them yet bearing the crucifixion wounds – and he is behaving as if this were their normal Passover journey to Jerusalem. And now he tells them that he expects them to go out into the world – the world that has just put him to death – and teach others as he has taught them. Even more surprisingly, he tells them that whose sins they forgive are forgiven and whose sins they retain are retained. They are beyond confused. They are stunned.
There is no other experience in their varied lives that has prepared them for what stands before them. How, they ask themselves, could they have been so blind to Jesus’ real mission? How had the Teacher been so patient with them? Why does he value them so much? Can it be that he truly loves them this deeply and this well?
We are often blind-sided by circumstances. What have we learned from these experiences? Have we really noticed that it is Jesus who breathes life into our wounded lives with his own, powerful breath? Have we taken his gentle urging seriously that we go into the world to do as he has done? Do we fully and enthusiastically believe that Christ’s peace will be with us as we unlock the door behind which we have buried ourselves to go out into a world that will be both loving and hostile?
Today we reach the half-way point in the Easter Octave and if we still stand frightened and locked away rather than thankful, open, amazed and engaged in the world we have missed entirely the Easter story. We have missed the announcement of the end of fear. We have missed the liberation of our bodies, minds and souls. But – and this is the truly amazing point of the Easter story – despite the fact that we have hidden ourselves away, Jesus comes through all locked doors to retrieve us. Jesus breathes life back into our exhausted lives. Jesus will go to hell and back in order to set us free from our fears and anxieties. It is in this way that we know the breadth and depth of God’s love. Jesus sends us, just as he was sent. And Jesus goes with us always so that we have nothing to fear.
Tomorrow, the doubt of Thomas . . .