Saturday, April 21, 2018

Gospel text for 3rd Sunday of Easter 15 April 2018

Luke 24:36b-48        Jesus himself stood among the disciples and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence.

Then 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, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.

Reflection       The risen Christ stands among us, indeed, in and of and with each of us, saying “Peace be with you.” What better place than in Church to practice passing on the peace, the peace that dwells within each of us? the peace for which we all long? The risen Christ stands among the disciples who betrayed and abandoned him, who ran away when he was arrested, who hid when he was beaten, humiliated and died. The message is irrefutable, God’s peace of  wholeness and completeness, well being and security is present and available to everyone, no matter what.

When we stop think about it, the act of passing the peace is an act of radical resistance to everything within us and around us that promotes division and distrust, doubt and disillusion. As we pass the peace we are standing up against the forces of hatred in our world. We are looking into one another’s eyes and affirming a truth that is beyond our understanding. No matter what appears to be going on, God’s peace, God’s wholeness, completeness, well-being and security IS with us. 

Here I must make a confession. Something about our liturgical usage of the words “Peace BE with you,” has always left me unsatisfied. The risen Christ has already come and stood among us,  has already breathed on us ”the peace that is beyond understanding.” (Phil 4.7) The blessing of peace; of wholeness, completeness, well being and security IS already with us. In the gospel according to John we read Jesus’ words, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives…. (John 14. 27).   In other words, peace IS with us. We do not receive the gift of peace contingent upon who we are, where we come from, what we believe, who we vote for, or anything that we have done or that we have left undone. God’s peace is present and available to everyone, right now, no matter what. 

This is startling, this is terrifying, this raises doubts in our hearts. Much like the disciples,  we want to feel joy but we cannot believe it and we wonder, how can this be? We look for peace and instead we see brutality and bloodshed. In lieu of completeness we suffer patronage and partiality. Loss and disadvantage supplant our sense of well being. Confusion, suspicion and mistrust overthrow our security.  Peace? What peace is there for us? 

Jesus himself stood among the disciples and said to them, “Peace be with you.”… “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?” “And he opened their minds to understand.” The peace of the Lord IS always with you. This is good news indeed. 

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