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Peace Be with You

April 19, 2020

Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday


John 20:19-31


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.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. [Jesus] said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to 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 into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of [his] disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may [come to] believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.


Opening Prayer: Lord God, I praise you for your Resurrection masterpiece. You died, destroying death; now you have risen, restoring life. Thank you for every Sunday Mass, in which we remember Christ’s victory. Alleluia!


Encountering Christ:


1. Peace Be with You: Many elements in this Gospel passage can help us to reflect more deeply on the celebration of the Eucharist. For example, Christ said three times, “Peace be with you.” These can be likened to the triple invocations of the “Kyrie Eleison” or the “Lamb of God.” The number three is the number of completeness and perfection. God himself is three persons in one God, and each person is very present in this passage: Jesus mentioned the Father (“the Father has sent me”) and the Holy Spirit (“Receive the Holy Spirit”), while Thomas mentioned the Son (“My Lord…”) and his divine nature (“…and my God!”). And what do the Kyrie and the Lamb of God and Jesus and Thomas and the Mass all show us? That there is mercy, there is forgiveness of sin, there is peace.


2. Faith and the Eucharist: Devotion to Mary, Undoer of Knots, has been on the rise in recent years. Many Catholics are attracted to the Mother of God as an aid in untying the tangles of life. In an analogous way, today’s Gospel presents to us Jesus, Comer through Locked Doors (twice!). He came to the apostles despite the obstacles they placed before him. His presence and his mercy pursue us–especially at Easter–until we allow him to come in and give us peace. And he made his apostles protagonists in the giving of grace. We can, therefore, also ask for the intercession of the Apostles, Forgivers of Sin. But there is one more title to bestow in our list of devotions: We, the Blessed Unseers. Christ praised all those who have not seen and yet have believed—that is, all those who receive the Eucharist with faith. The bread we see is like a locked door that cannot prevent Jesus from coming at the consecration. And when he does, the priest echoe s his words: “Peace I leave you, my peace I give you.”


3. Bookwork: John tells us that Jesus did many other signs, “not written in this book.” John probably could have written another book, even longer than his Gospel, describing Jesus in detail. He confesses, “There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written” (John 21:25). Only in heaven, perhaps, will we learn more of John’s unwritten library. It would simply be too much for us here on earth. In fact, the library grows because Jesus works new wonders every day! Through the devout recitation of the liturgy of the hours by priests and lay people the world over, all of Jesus’s deeds recorded and unrecorded are praised continually to high heaven.


Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, thank you for searching me out when I lock myself in my own upper room. I want to take part in the liturgy with devotion, so that I can praise your glorious Resurrection and your Divine Mercy.


Resolution: Lord, today, by your grace, I will go to Mass with a joyful heart.


For Further Reflection: St. Therese of Lisieux’s Story of a Soul exemplifies the three points of our meditation today. She tried to live with great peace and trust in God; she showed great faith and devotion to the Eucharist; and she tried to write down in her book how Jesus had worked in her life, similar to St. John’s account of the Gospel.

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