Normally I would write a message based on this Sunday’s gospel but because of the abnormal times we live in, I decided to write a message based on the abnormal times we are now living in.
The disciples were locked up inside their house. They’d barricaded the door. Earlier that morning, they’d heard some outrageous news from some of their women friends. The women had traveled to Jesus’ grave. But when they got there, his tomb was empty! Peter and John ran to the tomb to check things out. They found it just as the women had said, Empty!
As the day wore on, their anxiety grew and grew. Now they’d sheltered in their house to avoid danger. Doesn’t that sound eerily familiar? Sheltering in place? 2000 years later, here we are, self-isolating.
The disciples set themselves apart from fear of danger. The same is true for us. We’re fearful of the things that might harm us. We’re wary of the Corona virus. Should we get sick, we fear we might be one of the unfortunate ones who end up dying from it. We’re afraid of what this pandemic means for us economically. Business owners fret over the fate of their companies. Workers fear they may lose their jobs. People who already are unemployed wonder how they’ll make ends meet.
No there’s no lack of anxiety these days. For some, the self-isolating adds to their stress. Stress is on the rise. So we can definitely relate to the disciples and their fear. We get it!
But then the risen Jesus breaks in through their locked door. Jesus enters their anxiety-filled room and of all things, he says, “Peace! Peace be with you!”
Into their fears, Jesus–the risen Jesus–brings peace. He doesn’t bring just any old peace. He brings his peace. For he is peace. His very presence is the source of their peace.
For the disciples, Jesus was their peace. When they were in his presence, their anxiety melted away. His presence was peace.
Anxiety can breed anxiety. When you walk into a situation where people are tense, you naturally tense up also. But the opposite is true also. One person can walk into a tense situation and restore peace and calm to everyone there. Their peace spreads to everyone else. Peace begets peace, and a single peaceful presence can allay our fears.
Psychologists talk about how a person can have a non-anxious presence. The non-anxious person conveys an atmosphere of equilibrium to the people around them. They don’t easily get ruffled and agitated. With their peaceful presence, they convey a sense that things will work out all right.
Jesus is the paramount non-anxious presence! And why? First of all, he’s the author of life. He’s the Word made flesh. All things have come into being through him. Without him, nothing could exist. Jesus is the word of God. He’s the Alpha and the Omega; he’s the beginning and the end.
It’s Jesus who enters into the midst of his disciples. This is the Jesus who says, “Peace be with you.” When Jesus gives you peace, you have the peace that passes all human understanding.
Our risen Lord Jesus Christ spreads His peace upon us in our own anxious times. Jesus’ new life is our new life. His victory is our victory. His peace is our peace. In His peace, we cast our anxieties upon him.
During these times of increased anxiety, we can dwell in Christ’s peace and pass that peace along to others.
Be present in the now. Anxiety carries with it the dread of an unknown future but peace exists in the here and now. Be fully aware of the present moment. In the here and now, you will see signs of God.
Through the peace of Christ, we can acknowledge and face our anxieties.