Heaven is declaring God’s glory;
the sky is proclaiming his handiwork.
2 One day gushes the news to the next,
and one night informs another what needs to be known.
3 Of course, there’s no speech,
no words— their voices can’t be heard—
4 but their sound extends throughout the world;
their words reach the ends of the earth.
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ:
Grant us, we pray, to be grounded and settled in your truth
by the coming down of the Holy Spirit into our hearts.
That which we know not, reveal;
that which is wanting in us, fill up;
that which we know, confirm;
O God Almighty,
and keep us blameless in your service;
through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
—Clement of Rome (1st century)
Jesus Appears to the Disciples
19 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.” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
Jesus and Thomas
24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
26 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
The Purpose of This Book
30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.
Some initial thoughts
This is the gospel reading for this coming Sunday, the second Sunday of Easter.
In my initial thoughts I am struck by the contrast of Jesus’ words, ‘Peace be with you’ with the harrowing events that have just occurred.
I’m not sure I would be feeling so peaceful.
The disciples weren’t feeling so peaceful – they were afraid, afraid that the authorities who had killed their teacher, their friend, would come for them too.
The doors were locked.
If ever there was a moment for vengeance to be enacted, or at least some sort of plan for revenge devised, surely it was now?
If this was a TV show, or a movie, that is how it would play out, right?
But instead, ‘Peace be with you.’
Peace be with you – despite the betrayal,
Peace be with you – despite the violence and murder,
Peace be with you – despite the loneliness and heartbreak,
Peace be with you – despite the long dark day,
Peace be with you…
What a contrast, what a way of seeing things!
I also notice that resurrection, while it may have brought Jesus’ presence to be with the disciples, it hadn’t sorted out the problem of his wounds. A week later Thomas is able to look and touch these wounds. Jesus openly shared these with his disciples. Jesus’ wounds in actual fact were what restored Thomas to faith.
I wonder how often we as individuals, or even as the church, seek to hide our broken bits, our scars, thinking that these will put people off? After all, will people still like us if they see that we are not perfect?
I wonder how might we, in contrast, be open and honest about our wounds and let God speak and restore faith through them?
What do you think?
Take a moment with God in prayer
Imagine yourself in that scene with the disciples.
Imagine Jesus showing up, looking you in the eye and saying those words,
‘Peace be with you.’
What are you thinking? What are you feeling? Do you have a question to ask?
Sit with God in this scene for a moment of stillness…
Grant, O Lord Jesus,
that the ears which have heard the voice of your songs may be closed to the voice of dispute;
that the eyes which have seen your great love
may also behold your blessed hope;
that the tongues which have sung your praise
may speak the truth in love;
that the feet which have walked in your courts
may walk in the region of light;
and that the bodies which have received your living body may be restored in newness of life.
Glory to you for your inexpressible gift. Amen.
—Liturgy of Malabar (5th century)
Go gently, go lightly
Go gently, go lightly, go safe in the spirit,
live simply, don’t carry much more than you need:
go trusting God’s goodness, go spreading God’s kindness,
Stay centred on Jesus and where he will lead.
Go singing, go bringing the gifts of the Spirit,
go hopefully searching for things that are true:
in living, in loving, whatever befalls you,
God keep you, God bless you in all that you do. Shirley Erena Murray