'See, my children, a person who is in a state of sin is always sad. Whatever he does, he is weary and disgusted with every thing; while he who is at peace with God is always happy, always joyous. . . Oh, beautiful life! Oh, beautiful death!'--St. Jean Marie Baptiste Vianney: (1786 – 1859: was a French parish priest who is venerated in the Catholic Church as a saint and as the patron saint of parish priests.)
Gospel Text: (LK 24:35-48)
The disciples of Jesus recounted what had taken place along the way,
and how they had come to recognize him in the breaking of bread.
While they were still speaking about this,
he stood in their midst and said to them,
“Peace be with you.”
But they were startled and terrified
and thought that they were seeing a ghost.
Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled?
And why do questions arise in your hearts?
Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.
Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones
as you can see I have.”
And as he said this,
he showed them his hands and his feet.
While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed,
he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?”
They gave him a piece of baked fish;
he took it and ate it in front of them.
He said to them,
“These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you,
that everything written about me in the law of Moses
and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.”
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
And he said to them,
“Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer
and rise from the dead on the third day
and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins,
would be preached in his name
to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
You are witnesses of these things.”
The central point that stuck with me in today’s Gospel from Mass was the first words out of Jesus mouth to his disciples were “Peace be with you.” No fear. No scolding for their failure and betrayal of him on Good Friday. No turmoil. No doubt. Simply Peace. Those words Christians have said to one another ever since, perhaps without thinking: Peace be with you.
These same disciples cowered in fear behind locked doors when good news was waiting for them outside. Good news came to them anyway, even in their fear. They were seeking safety, and the truth came instead. Is it fear that makes us hide from the suffering of the world? Perhaps that’s a mystery of the heart, so easily turned to stone, so easily turned away from the pain of others.
Whenever we’re afraid and hiding out, all locked up, God comes to us in the midst of our fear and says, “Peace be with you.” Whatever doubts churn consciences, whatever pain and worry bind us up, whatever walls we have put up or doors we have locked securely, God comes to us and says, “Peace be with you.” Whatever hunger and need we feel deep in our souls, God calls us to the table, feeds us well, and sends us out into the world to be justice and peace, salt and light, hope for the world. We can do it, if we keep our eyes open, our minds limber, and our hearts soft and willing to love. As God sent Jesus, God sends us, today.