John 20: 19-31
“Peace be with you.” (John 20:19, 21, 26)
Our Gospel today picks up on the evening of the day of the Resurrection. The disciples are in hiding “for fear of the Jews” and had heard the initial Gospel proclamation earlier that day from Mary Magdalene who had seen the Lord. He is Risen! Yet that doesn’t result in change. Only a personal encounter with the Risen Jesus will.
In the midst of this fear, the Lord shows up and says, “Peace be with you.” What astonishment there must have been! The words of Mary are true! He is Risen! But then, what does this mean? Just a few days before Peter denied Jesus three times and all the disciples except for John abandoned him. Were they so afraid when they saw Jesus the first time that it prompted him to say “Peace be with you”?
And now that he has said it, “the disciples rejoiced” having seen him. The shouts must have been overwhelming as the darkness which was approaching that evening must have been cast away by the radiance of Jesus.
Once more Jesus says, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Jesus centers them and sends them on mission by giving them the Holy Spirit which enables them to go out and forgive sins as he did.
Unfortunately, Thomas did not witness Jesus’ unimaginable manifestation to his disciples. It wasn’t until a week later that Thomas saw Jesus. How many times did the disciples try to convince him within those seven intervening days? What was the changed disposition that Thomas must have seen amongst his friends?
Jesus proclaims again, “Peace be with you.” It is in this peace that Jesus invites Thomas into an intimate relationship with him where he can probe the physical, risen Christ. Disregarding his previous parameters for belief, Thomas immediately proclaims, “My Lord and my God!” and becomes the only disciple to assert Christ’s divinity.
Jesus appeared to the disciples amidst their fear and came to Thomas amid his doubt. All were transformed and sent forth. Likewise, we will be transformed and sent forth in the Spirit as Jesus meets us saying,
“Peace be with you.”