Acts 5:12-16; Revelation 1:9-11,12-13,17-19; Psalm 118; John 20:19-31
In our Gospel lesson, Our Lord says to St. Thomas, “You became a believer because you saw me. Blest are they who have not seen and have believed.” Today we have been witnesses to a commitment to that kind of faith. Faith which proclaims, “I will trust God with my past, present and future.” “I will love God and my neighbor, and will go forth into the unknown without fear.” We have an example in Sister Dorothy of what can be accomplished when we approach life and faith with love, humility, hard work and determination.
In our second lesson, from the Book of Revelation, the One like a Son of Man, in other words, Our Lord, says to St. John, “There is nothing to fear. I am the First and the Last and the One who lives. Once I was dead but now I live – for ever and ever. I hold the keys of death and the nether world.” Fear is the greatest enemy of a life of faith. Fear keeps us small and selfish and myopic, we see only what is right in front of us and ignore the larger picture of the consequences of our actions, or inactions, our eternal salvation and the salvation of the world.
The evening after the Resurrection of the Lord, the disciples, “…had locked the doors of the place where they were for fear of the Jews.” In spite of this, Jesus walked right in and said, “Peace be with you,” then he said it again, “Peace be with you.” This lesson obviously didn’t take because the next week they were in the same place, with the doors locked, and again Jesus came in and said, “Peace be with you.” Now, disregarding for the moment the other things that happened – the giving of the power to bind and loose and St. Thomas’ declaration of belief -- what was Jesus trying to teach the disciples by walking through the door and offering them his peace? He could have knocked and said, “It is I, the Lord.” Or he could have waited till someone came and let him in, or he could have joined them in the street as they were coming. Why did he walk through the door, just because he could, and it was cool? I don’t think so. He was showing them that he was not only alive but Resurrected, alive with the eternal life of God and that in his presence and the presence of his peace the locked room of our fear has become a place of power, faith and hope. And from that locked room the disciples went out, and as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, “Many signs and wonders occurred among the people…men and women in great numbers were continually added to the Lord. The people carried the sick into the streets…so that when Peter passed by at least his shadow might fall on one or another of them. Crowds from the towns…would gather, too, bringing their sick and those who were troubled by unclean spirits, all of whom were cured.” These are the same disciples who were cowering behind locked doors, and now a shadow is effective for healing, a shadow! This is the power of the Lord’s peace to abolish our fear, to strengthen our hearts, to give us the courage to live our life of faith BIG, not hiding in corners or whispering in the darkness, but in the light, out loud, in the world.
And what is the Lord’s peace? It is not a thing, an object or even a feeling. In the ancient world there was the Pax Romani, the Peace of Rome, which meant, in theory, that there was peace throughout the Roman empire. We are in the Pax Christi, the peace of Christ, which is nothing other than the Reign, the Kingdom of God. It is not a state of external calm or lack of conflict, but an interior certainty. The disciples were afraid because they were uncertain, they weren’t sure what was going on. When the Lord walked through the locked doors and presented St. Thomas with his pierced hands and side, they KNEW and were no longer afraid. When we know, with the deep certain knowledge of the heart that Christ is Risen, and that in him we also have new eternal life, then our fear fades away, and we are experiencing the Peace of Christ, the Kingdom of God.
Is it possible to live in this way all the time? It must be possible, but I have never managed it, we do all let our fears overtake us at times, let the worries and the sorrows of life narrow our field of vision. In those times it is good to know that Jesus can walk through locked doors, can come to us in our fear and give us his peace and his life and open our eyes once again to the infinitely LARGE life that is ours in his Kingdom.
Sister Dorothy has dedicated herself today to living this LARGE life, to going out, even to Texas, without fear and in the joy and peace of the Lord. Our prayers will be with her always that this life she has chosen will be her, and for those around her, an open door to Christ. (+)
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