Saint Peter the Apostle Parish Naples, FL
Acts 3, 13-15, 17-19 Psalm 4 1 John 2, 1-5 Luke 24, 35-48
Last week I suggested that the fear felt by the apostles was far more than “fear of the Jews”. I truly believe that their fear must have also included a fear of Jesus; a fear that he might return as he said. Then, what would happen to them. Their lack of action on his behalf made them partly responsible for his death. Add to that their belief that he was the Messiah they had hoped for and then abandoned made this an even greater fear. They were terrified and trapped. This realization that he was the Messiah they had failed had one consequence, damnation. They had lost their chance to be saved. They certainly heard about the death of Judas knowing he had suffered from the same guilt and despair. Now they were hearing news from others about walking, talking, and eating with Jesus who was very much alive. Then suddenly Jesus is there, and two things happen that move them from doubt to belief, from fear to wonder and joy: touch and food. The one has touched others and brought healing and hope now invites them to touch him, and that touch heals their doubt. This is real. In that culture, you do not eat with people you fear and do not trust. Now the one who has fed thousands, broken bread with tax collectors and sinners, and fed them in an upper room asks them to feed him, and that removes their fear.
This greeting of Jesus in that room is rich in meaning. Far more than an end to hostilities, peace is a wish for wholeness and for holiness in mind, heart, and soul. The power of this greeting in peace spoken by Jesus brings healing among them and reconciliation. What we must not fail to see is who come seeking that reconciliation and offering that peace, Jesus. It should have been the other way around. They were the offenders who, by our standards ought to have sought him to say they were sorry and beg for peace and forgiveness. But it is not that way in this story nor is it ever that with God as this story reveals. God comes to us. Jesus seeks. He reaches out passes through locked doors, stony hearts, and walls of guilt and fear to bring hope and the joy of peace where there is none.
In this we have found the meaning of his life, death, and resurrection. It is the ultimate revelation about the Father who sent Christ Jesus into this world. The God from whom Adam and Eve hid in shame is the one who begins the reconciliation. This is the God who seeks communion with human kind, the best and most loved of creation. This is the news Jesus proclaimed among us. He had taught these disciples over and over again to seek the poor and the outcasts, those left behind and those shut out. All the while they argued for places of honor. He proclaimed the privilege of the poor and the necessity of suffering, but they would have none of it. Now when they are at their lowest in guilt and disgrace, he comes with an offering of peace that opened their minds to understand the scriptures in a new way. Having met this Lord, risen in glory, and having accepted his offer of peace, they are prepared then to be witnesses of this to all the nations.
My friends, it must be the same for us. The offer of peace, the promise of forgiveness, the opportunity to live with joy is there for us who are willing to touch and to feed for there are still too many who long to know the touch of kindness and hunger for understanding, justice, and love. The Joy with which we live our lives, welcome others, touch, and feed hungry will be the witness Christ expects from those who have listened to and kept his word. As the Epistle today says: “The love of God will them be perfected in them.”