Jesus appears before them and utters those words of comfort: “Peace be with you.”
We say those words rather casually when we offer the sign of peace at mass but in this context can you imagine what they truly meant. The disciples thought they were seeing a ghost! Moreover, they were stuck immobile in the upper room unable to move, even with the Good News given to them by the women and by the two on the road to Emmaus. Indeed fear can keep us paralyzed.
So those words of peace are what calms their troubles. When I do imaginative prayer with this gospel I place myself as one of the disciples, I want to believe that Jesus is really there but then I doubt it.
But when he eats that piece of baked fish–I can almost hear myself saying “That’s the Jesus I know! He’s the one who was always eating and drinking with us! Those people threw him on the cross and killed him but he’s back and he’s still hungry! Somehow that figures!”
I could almost hear myself teasing Jesus, “Oh sure, save some for us will ya?” And Jesus would smile back at me and maybe even break a piece of fish off and hand it to me and perhaps even offer it and then chomp it down instead of giving it to me. “You want a piece, Mike? I’ll bet you do! Gulp! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!”
I also noticed in the reading of this gospel that Jesus merely says to look at his hands and feet–but there are no mention of any wounds here. Could he NOT have wounds? Could this Jesus be completely healed of those wounds and could that be what he is pointing to–so that the disciples believe that ultimately death cannot kill God and that resurrection makes one whole again?
When we are in our darkest moments do we believe that Jesus can enter into our dark fortresses that we build to try to isolate ourselves and keep others at bay? Do we believe that there is no door that Jesus can’t open and when he does, even when we aren’t expecting it, are we ready to accept the peace that he offers with that entrance and offer some small token of hospitality?
Or do we try to slam the door? We can try to keep God out but somehow the strong driving winds of Pentecost find us eventually. It seems to me that the peace that we all crave can be found if we just open ourselves up to not hiding from God–especially when we feel shameful or alone. We need God then more than ever and instead we decide to go into that upper room and stay there.
“Peace be with you,” Jesus utters. And we hear that.
What do we do when that invitation comes to experience the peace that comes along with realizing that God can defeat death and calm all our fears?
Do we start celebrating by eating and drinking with Jesus or do we just stay put in our own misery and faithlessness. Thinking that God couldn’t possibly do anything for us?