Put yourself in the disciples’ sandals. It had been a turbulent few days: Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, a Passover meal like no other, the betrayal and arrest, the torture, humiliation, the sham trial, brutal torture, Jesus’ execution and burial. It was all over in the worst possible way. Most of the disciples had cowardly disappeared early in the piece. The shame of it! And now there are reports that he has risen, just as he had predicted. Every possible emotion has been heightened and spun as if in a vortex. And Jesus emerges from within it saying, ‘Peace be with you’!
He shows the disciples his wounds; they can touch him; he eats with them. He doesn’t hurry them on from their doubts and uncertainties but asks them to notice what is going on in their hearts.
What goes on in our hearts when things don’t work to plan, when we are grief-filled, when our dreams and plans sour? Christ is there in the midst of our crises saying, as he so often did, ‘Don’t be afraid’ and ‘Peace be with you.’ Peace, not just the absence of conflict, but a deep sense of knowing that all will be well.
Through his Incarnation, Christ, God among us, accepted the vulnerabilities of becoming human, even so far as to enduring suffering and death. Yet, here he is, standing in our midst, opening minds to understand that death is but a portal to new life in God. We have nothing to fear.
His wounded hands, wounded feet and side are still present, just as we bear the wounds of our own humanity, but they are signs of just how far God is prepared to go to show love. And they entice us to be present, to bring that peace, wherever we encounter the wounded and crucified along our journey.
Death and life are closely linked, yet life has the last word.
Brian Norman has been associated with the Passionists in various ways since he was three weeks old when he squared off with Fr Placid Millay CP over the baptismal font at St Brigid’s, Marrickville.