2nd Sunday of Easter B

It seems that Jesus wanted the theme of Eater to be peace. As love was the theme of the Last Supper in John’s Gospel (“No one has greater love than to lay down one’s life for their friends”) and as John emphasized victory in his depiction of the cross, the Easter story is about peace. Three times in the Gospel appearances to the disciples Jesus says, “Peace be with you.” I don’t think he is simply reassuring the apostles because they are freaking out as he just appeared on the other side of locked doors. Well maybe a little. But he also says it after they are already rejoicing. I think it is more than a greeting. I think it is a statement of fact and theology: peace is with them because he has risen from the dead.
Peace is with them because Jesus is with them. Having risen from the dead he is literally the embodiment of peace. For we can never underestimate what the resurrection means. It means Jesus has overcome death and has promised the same for us. For at the end of the day, it is death we fear the most. And all our fears, great and small our somehow connected to death. But on Easter Sunday morning, everything changed. The looming night has been replaced by a dawn that will not be extinguished. Light has overcome darkness and hope has triumphed over despair for life has conquered death. This is the meaning of peace: that we are free from fear. This is a peace that is not contingent or dependent upon anything other than the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It can never be taken away for He is truly risen.
This is a different definition of peace than most of us possess. We usually think of peace as a state of mind when everything is going well, when the tumult and the madness of life have quieted down. But there is a whole other word to describe that state: luck. Instead this is a peace that abides; a peace that sustains; a peace that does not fade when the rigors of life catch up to us. For no matter what challenge you face, one fact in your life will not change – Jesus Christ has risen from the dead and he has offered us paradise.
Jesus himself points to this in his greeting to the apostles. As soon as he offers his peace he shows them his hands, bearing the marks of the nails, and his side, torn by the sword. And this is Jesus in his resurrected, glorified body. It is not perfect as we would imagine it. It is wounded. He offers peace not in spite of his wounds but because of them. His peace grows around his wounds and the wounds are the pathway through which he was able to offer that peace. It may also be true for us. Our peace does not mean we are unblemished. It means that we love, we trust and we believe around our wounds. Indeed, they are often the space we allow our loved ones and God to enter into our lives through our vulnerabilities. It is the gift Jesus offers to quell Thomas’ doubts. “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side.” Thomas responds, “My Lord and my God.” He gets what peace looks like.
And isn’t it wonderful that the language of Jesus to his apostles is the language of the mass. We say nothing more often than the “Lord be with you” and “Peace be with you.” When we share the sign of peace, we are boldly proclaiming that Jesus is the Risen Lord. Of course we say it in a low mumbled voice. “Peace be with you.” How great would it be if we share the definitive good news in our lives with the joy the apostles must have known in that locked room? How invigorating to hear from loved ones, acquaintances and strangers alike they are a witness to the peace of Christ and they see it in you as well. Let this be our song of the Easter season. Peace be with you.

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