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Evang./Prof. Michael P. Howard, MACS

Third Sunday of Easter

"Peace be with you." (Lk 24:35-48)


The soulful sounds of the musical group WAR in the early seventies with the song Slippin' into Darkness resonated with me when reflecting on Luke's gospel for the Third Sunday of Easter. Luke repeats the exact words that Jesus spoke to Thomas and the community on the Second Sunday of Easter. "Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, 'Peace be with you'" (Jn 20:19). In John's gospel, the disciples rejoice when hearing Jesus say, "Peace be with you." In Luke's narrative, however, the disciples' response was different. Luke's account said, "They were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost" (Lk. 24:37). 


The lyrics from the musical group WAR, particularly the phrase 'Slipping into darkness,' struck a chord. The character in the song was descending into a dark hole because someone 'took [their] friend away.' This moment of separation mirrored the disciples' situation in Luke's gospels, where they were in a spiritual downward spiral. "They were slipping into darkness." 


Do not think that this is strange behavior by the disciples. We all have experienced periods of slipping into darkness when a loved one suddenly is ushered to the gates of heaven, leaving us in a state of profound grief and loss. Or we find ourselves in a spiritual moment of the unknown or wonder why the unthinkable happens to good people. This is a crisis for us as we question our faith and understanding. We may search our scriptures diligently, pray earnestly for understanding, and still find ourselves hearing a pin drop instead of the voice of God. Dumfounded, we may ask, "Is this a crisis, or is this Christ?"


Fortunately, Luke's narrative offers us a roadmap when we are 'slippin' into darkness' to hear Christ speaking to us. It begins with listening for God's utterance, then extends to showing compassion to others, and finally, to fellowship:


  1. Listen for God's utterance. In other words, Jesus spoke these profound words amid the disciples' conversation: 'Peace be with you.' These words, uttered by Jesus, are not just words of comfort but a promise that mercy and grace will always be with us, even in our darkest moments. Did not Isisah, the prophet, tell us that we must seek the Divine presence of the Lord and call on the Holy One of Israel, who is near to our ears (Is. 55:6)? Jesus' words are a beacon of hope guiding us out of the darkness and into the light;

  2. Touch Jesus. St. Teresa of Avila said, "Christ has no body now on earth, but yours; no hands, but yours; no feet ..." We must look to show compassion to others by touching them with the mercy we have received from Christ. Jesus told the disciples to touch him: who can you touch with the same mercy that Jesus touched you with?;

  3. Fellowship. Jesus stayed and fellowshiped with the disciples, making time to eat bread and fish with them and leading a Bible study about the Law of Moses and the need for repentance. This act of fellowship, of coming together, is more than just a social gathering. It is a powerful tool for healing and understanding. It reminds us that we are not alone in our struggles and that there is strength in the community. 

Consider this: Mary, the Mother of God, heard the announcement of the angel Gabriel and then ran towards Elizabeth. The scriptures say, "When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice, 'Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb'" (Lk. 1:40-42). This shows us how the roadmap worked in Mary's life to help her avoid slipping into despair, especially since the scriptures say, "she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be" (Lk. 1:29). Mary heard the Angel, touched Elizabeth and stayed for fellowship.


Are you or someone you know going through a tough time? Has a doctor given you unfavorable news, or has someone close to you passed away? Perhaps someone you know has had a bad accident or a terrible fall. It's essential to be kind and show compassion during times of distress. Take a cue from Jesus and say, "Peace be with you" to those in need. Demonstrate your love and care by offering a gentle touch and spending time with them. Reach out to them, give them a call, and express your affection. Remember that you may be their only source of comfort and hope today. Let's help our brothers and sisters from falling into despair. Say "Peace be with you" today, "The Storm is Over."

Author: Evang./Prof. Michael Howard, MACS

Facilitator, University of Dayton, VLCFF,

University of Notre Dame, McGrath Institute, STEP Online,

Lead Faculty and Course Designer "The Presence of Black Catholics in the Church Today and Tomorrow" Loyola Marymount University,

Founder of Eat the Scroll Ministry 

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1 Comment

Awesome reflection! Thanks

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