The doors were closed in the room where the disciples were for fear of the Jews
Have you ever felt like keeping the doors shut and locking yourself in? Today’s gospel is a bit of a story like that. It is the story of a small Jewish community who got carried away with a man who appeared to be their hope and salvation. Now dead. They had been brave enough when he was with them – to a point. When the crunch came they all fled. He was killed. Would the same happen to them? Would the Jewish leaders come and search them out and kill them too – as punishment for being his followers and for causing unrest in Jerusalem, both among their own people and the Romans? And of course there is the added twist that some of the women are claiming that the body has disappeared and that he is alive. As absurd as it sounds what if there is any truth in that? And then what would he do to them if he was alive? Didn’t they feel his eyes burning through them as they ran away that night in the Kedron valley when they came to arrest him? They would surely be held to account by him for their betraying actions. Yes, definitely keep the doors shut.
And yet on the first day of the week the in-breaking of the risen Lord expels all fear and the first gift of the resurrection is the gift of reconciliation announced with the words – ‘peace be with you’. No payback, no vengeance, no violence. Instead the fearful disciples are met with the gift of peace and the commissioning to take that peace and forgiveness to the rest of the world. This task is not complete. There are doors closed in so many rooms around our world and fear takes hold and rules so much of our human communities.
This is the day for doors to be opened. This is the day for us to resist lack of action and planning for fear of death and to walk forthrightly and faithfully forward with the words ‘peace be with you’ on our lips. This is the day for doors to be opened and for our silence to be broken as we speak out against oppression and against violence. We are stopped by fear of death – metaphorically and physical. The gospel is a release from this fear. The gospel and the resurrection of Christ are our strength our light and our joy.
In this Easter season then, let us check ourselves when we find ourselves closing doors and retreating out of fear. Let us take the bright light of the resurrection gifts of reconciliation and peace and let these be our strength and our invitation to others to enter and join our community of hope as we continue to record in our day the many signs that the risen Lord will bring about. There is much to be done and in light of the resurrection there is little to fear.
By Brendan Reed