Dear people, as a faith community, let's place ourselves, mind, heart and body, in that Upper room described in today's Gospel. We're there because we're afraid. We've locked all the doors and we don't know what's going to happen next. Are the authorities going to come and drag us away? What's really going to happen to us? Look what they did to Jesus! Will they come and do that to us? Suddenly, Jesus appears – he comes right through our locked doors! But is it really Jesus? Maybe it's a ghost! How did he get in? The doors are locked! Oh God, it really is Jesus! These are our first thoughts and feelings.
Then reality sets in. We apostles start remembering, one by one, the last time we saw Jesus - or more correctly, the last time Jesus saw us! Because we were backing away, then running like crazy out of the Garden of Olives, deserting Jesus. For Peter standing right next to us, it must be worse. He remembers a rooster crowing, a threefold denial and Jesus simply looking at him in sad silence. But here stands Jesus – in the same room with us. What's he thinking? What's he going to say to us. He must hate us! Or at least be extremely disappointed! What's he going to do? Oh, Oh! We wish we were back in Galilee going fishing on the sea. Life was much simpler back then!
Jesus interrupts our reveries, our guilty thoughts and feelings, with a single word that reverberates throughout the room and resolves our dilemma. “Peace!” he declares, and then he looks into the eyes of each of us and says it again, “Peace!” No scolding, no lecturing, no finger-wagging, no condemning, nothing. Simply, “Peace!” What an unexpected relief! But before we can catch our breath Jesus then spells out our life mission. He says, “I am sending you to do for others what I have done for you. I am sending you to be forgivers and healers of hearts.” Then he warns us, “If you do not offer forgiveness and healing, people will remain wounded and imprisoned in their sins. I am relying on you!”
With these few words, Jesus defines for us what it means to be a genuine Christian in the real world where the rubber meets the road. Our answers to a few simple questions will help us determine whether or not we are genuine Christians, real apostles of Jesus:
Do we bring healing to people by loving, accepting and serving them?
Do we readily forgive people who have hurt us, and ask forgiveness of those we have hurt?
Is our family, our community, our world a better place because of who we are and how we live?
Are we in frequent contact with Abba God through prayer?
In this Chapel, this “Upper room” we stand this morning in the company of Jesus, and we receive again his gift of PEACE. Life teaches us how constantly we need second chances! Slowly our hardened hearts melt and we come to understand that we must not withhold from others the peace and healing Jesus gives us. Yes, Jesus places his kingdom in our hands. He gives us his
peace to share with others. May God grant that our every word and our every action speak to all the healing word that Jesus speaks to us here each Sunday in our very own Upper room: “Peace! Peace be with each and all of you. Peace!” AMEN!