Christ’s Unsettling Peace

Scripture paints a pathetic portrait of the apostles on that Sunday morning after Jesus' death. Fearful, confused and dejected, the Eleven gathered quivering behind locked doors. Their only conce4rn: would they be next?

Even the loyal women who stayed with Jesus to the end went to the tomb with no intention of encountering the Risen Jesus. No, they carried jars of ointment to anoint the corpse of their dead Messiah and give him a more fitting burial than the hurried disposal that took place earlier.

No one expected Jesus to actually rise from the dead. The apostles dismissed Mary Magdalene's report that she had actually seen and talked to the Risen Jesus. So when Christ suddenly appeared fully alive in their midst, no doubt their unspeakable joy was tempered by not a little shame. After all, what kind of disciple flees in the master's hour of need, much less denies knowing him : three times!

Jesus showed his wounds to erase any doubt he was the same one who died on the cross. Instead of delivering a well-deserved reprimand, he addressed them with the Hebrew greeting used by Jews to this day: Shalom aleichem-peace be with you! But shalom means so much more than peace. It means health. It means wholeness. And spoken by one risen from the dead to friends who had abandoned him, it also means forgiveness and reconciliation.

His Easter gift to them and to us is peace : not the peace of the world that comes from destroying enemies and that must be maintained by humiliating those who wronged us. Such "peace" does not last. The world cannot give the peace of Christ, but neither can it take it away.

The shalom of Christ not only heals us; it frees us from sin and death, from our distorted images of self. It prods us repeatedly until we put down our baggage once and for all. It impels a person to forgive and truly repent, not out of fear of punishment but because the joy that comes with shalom makes our reluctance and false pride so trivial and insignificant by comparison.

True Christians have been totally turned inside out by the peace of the Risen Christ. We cannot rest until we share this wonderful gift with everyone in the world!

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