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“When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week,
and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you." (John 20: 19)
“The doors….were locked for fear….”
Reflecting upon the course of my life, I find in this passage the echo of familiarity: the continuous cycle of responding and denying Jesus’ love. After Jesus’ burial, His disciples were trembling with fear: externally by the Jews and internally by their own conscience. Their souls found no rest, and were they frightened of what might come. When their Master was put on trial and crucified, they abandoned Him. Thus, that physical distance from their Master then, reflected their spiritual distance now, in that room, behind those closed doors. Sadness, regret, and fear froze them; they were not at peace with the world as well as with themselves. However, they might have had a slight clue of why they were in such a mess, and that was because….. He was not with them!
I, too, have my moments of “staying behind closed doors in fear.” There are times in my prayer I experience that Jesus’ eyes “search me and know me” (Ps. 139). Those are the times I stand before my God, in silence and alone. In that sacred space, I am confronted with my wounds of the past, brokenness of the present, and anxiety about the future. My sins, my imperfections, my failures, my deepest desire as well as my greatest fear engulf me, pull my gaze away from my Object/Christ…..and I hide. Like the disciples, I was afraid to show the world who I really was, or rather, I wasn’t sure who the real me is. I was afraid of “persecutions,” or in other words, afraid of being abandoned, rejected, and unloved. My soul was in turmoil. In those times of darkness, when I find it so hard to feel the presence of Jesus in my life, I “stay” with Mother Mary. Her presence helps to rekindle in my heart a hope that Peace will come.
I always appreciate the wisdom of our Church; I am especially grateful to have the Liturgical Seasons for it affirms me of the rhythm and meaning of my life. At the beginning of Easter Season, St. John reminds me three times in his gospel of the first blessing my Risen Lord brings: PEACE!!! St. Augustine once said, “Peace is the tranquility of order,” and this is what it means to me when I heard Jesus said, “Peace be with you.” He did not condemn His disciples of their unfaithfulness when He appeared to them in that room after Easter. Rather, He reaffirmed them of His forgiveness and love, reminding them who they really are: the ones whom He has chosen. “‘As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When He had said this, He breathed on them.”I realize that Peace is a gift of the Holy Spirit from the Father through Christ to me. This peace helps me to put things in their right order of importance. First, God always loves me unconditionally and nothing can change this reality whether I feel it or not, nor whether I choose to believe it or not. Second, I am His beloved. Period. No other titles have higher value than this and this identity is rightfully mine because Jesus has claimed it for me through His Redemptive Blood. Third, my true happiness is found in Jesus Christ. Everything else, success, acceptance, esteem, knowledge, etc. will come after those three truths. Peace gives me the courage and joy to face my reality as it is, to be what God calls me to be, and not hide behind “closed doors.”
I would like to end with Bishop Lambert’s prayer, "Jesus Christ Crucified the one object of our minds and hearts. We adore You. We glorify You because by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world.” By reciting this prayer often, I find my sense of direction, energy to walk through all the turmoil that life brings, inner peace that Christ wants to give.