Second Sunday of Easter
"...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." (Jn. 20:19-31)
On this second Sunday of Easter, in John's gospel, Jesus says to the disciples and us, "Peace be with you." Interestingly, Paul used a similar phrase when closing his letter to the Thessonlica community, "May the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way" (2 Thess. 3:16). Additionally, when comparing the dates of Paul's letter and John's gospel, we discover Paul's encouraging words on peace preceded John's writing. The Thessalonian letter was composed between 50-55 A.D., while John's gospel is dated 90-95 A.D. Therefore, from a biblical viewpoint, Paul's writing established the tradition of greeting the faith community, and we as a whole, to experience peace at all times. In every way, even amid fear, we should experience God's peace.
However, since Jesus is the Prince of Peace, mentioned by the prophet Isaiah in the Old Testament (Is. 9:6), we embrace Jesus' greeting of peace at all times. Although the disciples were fearful of the Jewish leaders, Jesus proclaimed, "Peace be with you." Jesus avoided admonishing the disciples because of their lack of faith. Through His resurrection power, Jesus took away the disciple's fear and offered them peace that surpasses all human understanding. Here we see as Paul prayed, we have peace at all times and in every way. Nevertheless, Jesus speaks more eloquently when he says, "Peace be with you."
For this reason, I have found joy in reflecting on so many people who created ways to keep the Church doors open even though the Pandemic season locked many church doors. I can't imagine not hearing these soothing faith words, "Peace be with you."
In many worship houses, a community of unsung saints, guided by the Holy Spirit, made it possible for pastors to greet their faith community every Sunday morning virtually online with Peace be with you. No one knows the fear that the technicians, lectors, and those who set up the environment experienced, nor the amount of money used to produce the quality videos we viewed for a whole year. Remember, we were at the beginning stages of a Pandemic that closed Churches around the world. I believe that Jesus did and said to these individuals, "Peace be with you," as they laid their fears at the feet of Jesus.
When reflecting further on locked church doors, my thoughts went to individuals who clean the church to ensure our community's safety. Week after week, they dressed in protective gear, left their homes and the virtual Mass to wipe and spray chemicals to disinfect the church. Are you kidding me? Talking about being on the front line, these individuals used the whole armor of the gospel of Jesus to stand in the gap. You know they heard these words from Jesus, "Peace be with you."
One must also include the ministers of the altar who clean the linen, chalice, paten, and other sacred items used and needed by the pastor weekly. How did these courageous individuals dismiss the fear of COVID 19? They, too, must have heard Jesus today saying, "Peace be with you."
Therefore, hear these words from Jesus, "Peace be with you," we will gather soon. Until then, Paul nailed it, "May the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way."
Authored: Evangelist Michael P. Howard, MACS