"Peace be with you" - 3rd Sunday of Easter

Today we celebrate the 3rd Sunday of Easter, Christ is risen!  During his homily today, Father (Hanley) made a point that really resonated with me.  Coming from the Gospel we had today - about Christ's appearance to the Apostles after His resurrection - Father reminded us of the story of the Passion, specifically from the perspective of the Apostles.  Though it is certain that they would have been overjoyed at that news that was filtering back that Our Lord was risen, would not they also have perhaps considered their failure over the past few days to stand by their Lord and Messiah?  Despite their long friendship with Jesus - listening to Him, asking Him questions, eating with Him, laughing with Him - all (but one), in His moment of need fled.  

I hate to say it, but I often see myself do the same thing.  I look back at Lent and I'm disappointed at the lack of progress, or thinking about the past week, I become frustrated at my slothfulness in studies, lack of generosity to those around me, distractedness in prayer, or whatever.  Gosh, I want to be a great saint, but at the end of the day I'm so often like "Sorry, Lord ... again."  Think about the apostles, waiting in the upper room, hearing the news of the resurrection, and then Jesus appears in their midst - surely they hung their heads in shame.  "Sorry, Lord..."  They, Our Lord's closest friends, were wimps.  I know the feeling!   I know what I should do, and then I don't do it - "the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak" [Matthew 26:40].  

But, what are Christ's first words to the Apostles?  They weren't "Where were you guys?, didn't you remember that bit about 'pick up your cross and follow me'?"  No, He says "peace be with you".  Peace - not "the peace that the world gives" [John 14:27], not the peace of no worries - no, He gives the deeper, the better, the truer peace of His friendship and forgiveness, again.  Christ shows them His hands and feet, not only to prove that He is actually Jesus - Crucified and risen - but to show them that He took upon Himself their own failures, our own failures.  He looks at them with mercy, with tenderness, with love; He looks at us the same way!  He invites us back to the same friendship!  This is the mystery, and awesomeness of Easter, not only that Jesus is alive again, but that He still loves us and wants us!

"While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, "Have you anything here to eat?"  Again, I don't want to trivialize the moment, but Jesus doesn't just eat with them to prove He's not a ghost, He wants to show that He's back, He's alive, He still counts them as His brothers, His band of followers!  He extends the same offer to us: in His mercy He is willing (and has) taken upon Himself all our sins, all our continuous failures, all our misery and weakness and wimpiness, and says "my peace I give you ... why are you troubled?"  Folks, this is the miracle of Easter: forgiveness of our sins, friendship with God, fearlessness of our weakness!  Of course, we can't stay where we're at: Jesus' resurrection calls us to try again, to unite ourselves with Him again, to repent and follow Him again!  "And he said to them, 'Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things.'"  Despite our incessant failures, Jesus still wants us as His witnesses!

Thanks Fr. Hanley, that is exactly what I needed to hear today!