An Eskimo and his 15-year old son were fishing with two other men near the edge of the ice. Suddenly and without warning, the section of ice on which they were standing broke away, and the fast current was carrying them out to the open Arctic Sea. With high winds and sub-zero temperatures, their situation was serious and life-threatening. Quickly sizing up the situation, the Eskimo father said to the other three, “Don't panic or we die!” Then he got into the one kayak that was still on the ice with them. His son expected to get in too, since that was the way they always traveled; but his father said emphatically, “You stay here!” The boy was hurt and terribly scared, but did as his father said.
After what seemed like an eternity in the icy cold and high winds, the father returned with another kayak in tow. The two other fishermen got into the second kayak, and the son took his familiar seat next to his dad as together the four headed home to warmth and safety. But on the way, the son asked his father the question that was troubling him: “Father, why didn't you let me go back with you the first time?” “Son,” he replied, “I looked into those men's eyes and saw that they'd most likely panic and die. But I knew that if I left my only son with them, they'd know for certain I'd be back!”
In today's Gospel, Jesus' disciples were worried and apprehensive. They were afraid that the people who killed Jesus might come back for them. In effect they had lost hope, lost faith in Jesus. He had gone away and wasn't coming back. That's why they locked the doors to the house they were in. They felt like children abandoned by their parent. But Jesus suddenly appears despite the locked doors and they instantly realize he hasn't deserted them. He was still with them and he always would be. Trust was restored!
Fears and doubt remain part of the rhythm of everyday life for us. So what should we do when these feelings appear, when the ice cracks and breaks under our feet? From where do we get the strength to wrestle our doubts and our fears? Our strength comes from the same source that Jesus' disciples found in that upper room: from the Risen Christ, the Son whom the Father left behind so we'd know we're never alone.
On Good Friday, Jesus settled an important question for us: How much does God love us? Jesus answered from the Cross, “This much!” On Easter morning, Jesus settled a second question for us: Will Jesus always be there for us? From the empty tomb, Jesus responds, “Yes, always!”
My friends, Jesus will not take away our fears and doubts, our pains and sufferings, by some magical sleight of hand. But if we listen to him with trusting hearts, all things become possible. Unlock the door! Let him in! He brings us strength of mind, courage of heart and life in abundance! Amen!