By Tony Magliano
“On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’”
And as if the once dead Jesus, appearing in their midst – with locked doors at that – was not enough to convince the disciples that their Master was alive, “he showed them his hands and his side.” And then they rejoiced!
But it wasn’t enough for the disciples to bask in the joy of the risen Lord, they were about to begin to understand that the unimaginable joy they just received was to be shared selfishly, to all nations.
To emphasize this, Jesus said again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
But he wasn’t sending them alone. “He breathed on them saying, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.’”
They were being charged to take the merciful peace of Jesus, into a world deeply wounded by sin, a world often captivated by sin. They faced head-on widespread sinful violence of all sorts. The violence of anger, the violence of war, the violence of abortion, the violence of greed, and the violence of indifference to suffering. Yet they faced these evils not alone, but with the strengthening, encouraging, comforting power of the Holy Spirit given to them by Jesus.
And look at all they accomplished!
And now 20 centuries later, the divine calling necessarily continues. At our baptism we received the light of the Holy Spirit, and with the complimentary sacrament of confirmation, we have been emboldened by that same Spirit to, like the first disciples, face head-on widespread violence of all sorts.
For not unlike those early heroes of the Christian faith, we too are called to challenge the prevalent violence of anger, war, poverty, abortion, capital punishment, slavery, greed and indifference to suffering.
But now add to that ancient ongoing list of violence, modern 21st century violence: nuclear weapons and the real threat of nuclear war, millions of machine and chemical abortions, conventional international wars, dozens of internal harmed conflicts, societies awash in handguns with the resulting endless murders on our city streets, violence glorified in our mass media, virtually unrestrained violent corporate greed – which treats human beings like things to be discarded, modern slavery of human trafficking, indifference to our brothers and sisters crying for help at our closed borders, human induced climate change resulting in catastrophic global warming, and starvation throughout much of the world.
And to all this violence Jesus comforts us with “Peace be with you.” As with the first disciples, he says again reassuringly, “Peace be with you.” And likewise, he sends us on mission: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
As we contemplate the Resurrection – what St. Augustine referenced as “God’s supreme and wholly marvelous work” – let us be comforted and empowered by the fact of faith that we serve an awesome God; who has conquered the violence of sin and death and charges us with the privilege of taking his all-powerful, life-giving message of peace into the whole world!
Take courage, “Peace be with you.”
Tony Magliano (email@example.com) is an internationally syndicated Catholic social justice and peace columnist and speaker. He is not a member of the AUSCP. His point of view is his own and not necessarily that of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests.