Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
During these days of the rapid spread of the deadly Coronavirus, most of us are staying at home behind closed doors, and if we have to get out to go to the store we wear a mask to protect us and those with whom we come in contact. We try to maintain at least six feet of distance between us and those we meet. We do what we can to prevent the disease. We may be fearful of or respectful of this dread disease, but we do not need to let it cripple our witness of the peace that Christ has breathed into us in our baptism.
When Jesus appeared to the disciples who were meeting behind closed and barred doors because of their fear, he did not need a key. He walked right through the locked doors into the room where they were meeting in fear of the authorities. When fear has you in its grip you take every precaution to stay in control of your life. Now we are taking whatever precautions we can to stay safe in the midst of this dreaded disease. That is the kind of fear that made them bar the doors of their meeting room.
Then Jesus breaks through their locked doors, through the fear that gripped them, and gave them his peace. He breathed His Holy Spirit into them. The breath of His Spirit brought the peace of Christ into them internally. The first fruit of the Holy Spirit that the disciples received that day was the peace that only Jesus can give. It was a peace that helped them live with the possibility of being imprisoned or crucified. He quieted their hearts in the face of their adversity. He made sure that they knew that His Spirit was in them so that they would be able to face anything that came their way. He went on to tell them that just as he had been sent to them by His Father, so He was sending them into the world to teach others how God so loved them through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Jesus comes to us this day through the locked doors of our fear, bringing his peace to us. This is the true peace that satisfies and quiets our hearts in the midst of fear, adversity, and this wild and mad disease that is killing people by the thousands. Sickness may afflict us or even kill our bodies, but the peace that Jesus has breathed into us at our baptism transcends all of our adversaries, even death. All of the adversities that we might face will still be there, but the power of His peace strengthen us in faith and joy in the midst of them. If we look to Christ, believing on him, no evil is so great that it causes us to despair. His spirit of peace goes with us in the midst of all adversities. We can and should take all necessary precautions to prevent getting this disease, but we can and must rely on the peace of Christ to see us through all adversities that come our way.
- Where do you experience the peace of Christ in your life today?
- How can you be a bearer of the peace of Christ to others in their illness, or adversity?
- How does the peace of Christ play a part in forgiving of those who have wronged you?
Sue is NLS Spiritual Director, since 2019 and is a retired Lutheran Pastor (ELCA). Active in VdC since 1995, she has served two terms on the Board of the Texas VdC Secretariat, and also on the Texas Gulf Coast VdC Board as Spiritual Director since its start-up in 2017.