The early disciples had locked themselves in a room. Their leader was gone. Or was he? Some of the women were telling them he was alive. The authorities were trying to stamp out the Jesus movement. They were confused, afraid. Jesus arrives and his first words to them are, “Peace be with you.” It wasn’t, “I’m alive, let’s get to work,” or, “Let me explain what’s happened and what you need to do.” It was simply, “Peace be with you.” Sometimes in the rush, the anguish, the fear, we need to hear those words, “Peace be with you.” So take a step back, centre yourself on Christ and hear those words of Jesus: Peace be with you.
It is good to receive peace from Jesus, but we cannot keep that peace to ourselves. Jesus, having been sent to us by the Father, sends us on to do the same: to go to others and give them peace. In this challenging time, where we face our own anguish, perhaps with feelings of loneliness and isolation, with worries about the future, we can bring peace to each other. We already see God’s Spirit moving as people pick up the phone to chat, to laugh, to check each other is okay. Today, make a call and bring peace to someone else, just as Jesus has brought peace to you.
In any community, whether made of Christians or those of no faith, people make mistakes, people disagree and people fall out. We all have people in mind who we know we haven’t got the best relationship with. Yet, forgiveness is at the core of our faith. It’s that which breaks down barriers and heals brokenness. It is never easy. The responsibility of ‘retaining sins,’ instead of forgiving is mind-blowing. I think about Jesus’ words, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone…” (John 8:7) or, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” (Matthew 6:12). How can I, with all the mistakes I’ve made, not forgive others? Each of us is given the Holy Spirit, breathed on us just as God breathed life into Adam in the beginning. We have an immense power to forgive one another and when we do, we reflect the love of God among us.
We live in a post-Enlightenment age. Science triumphs. We look for evidence, test our theories and build knowledge on that which we can see. And there’s nothing wrong with that. At this time, I want our scientists to do just that to find cures and vaccinations. Didn’t God give us the capacities to do such good? Yet beyond what we can see and touch, we know a truth that can’t be tested in this way. Thomas, just like the other disciples, wanted to see for himself and he did. But we find our faith through the stories that are told and when we do come to believe, we find our truth on a deeper level: we experience God’s love in our lives. Blessed are we that don’t see in the same way as Thomas, for we experience a love beyond measure.
Sometimes, I like to imagine what else Jesus did. What were the signs that weren’t written down? Who else met with him? Who else experienced his love? Then I think about who might have met with him after his resurrection? Moreover, what about all the people down the ages who have experienced God’s love, Christ’s resurrection glory and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. What about my story? What about your story? Imagine if we wrote all those things down, every single sign from then to now. I doubt we’d ever find enough paper or a big enough computer.
John’s Gospel was written for this reason. He shared the signs so that we might believe and have life in his name. Alleluia! That’s worth pondering!