For the past forty days of Lent, we have spent a lot of time reading and
praying about Jesus’ passion and death. We reflected on his entry into
Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. We joined him at the Last Supper on Holy Thursday. We
wept with the Virgin Mary at the foot of the cross on Good Friday. Then we
rejoiced to see him risen on Easter Sunday.
When Jesus called Mary Magdalene by name, her faith was restored. The
Emmaus disciples, upon seeing Jesus in the breaking of the bread, hurried back
to Jerusalem to tell everyone what had happened. Invited to probe Jesus’ wounds,
Thomas proclaimed “My Lord and my God”(John 20:28).
No one had a more dramatic encounter with the risen Jesus than Peter.
Seeing him on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, Peter must have felt guilty,
ashamed and unworthy. He was supposed to be the “Rock” of the Church, yet he
had denied Jesus three times. But Jesus looked beyond the turmoil to see the
potential in Peter and all his disciples. He knew that they would turn back
once they saw him, and that’s exactly what happened.
We are just like these first believers. Jesus knows our weaknesses and
our failures, but he doesn’t dwell on them. He sees us as children of the resurrection,
as people for whom sin and death are destroyed. And that’s how we should see
ourselves. Jesus knows our flaws; he knows we commit sins. But he also knows
there is so much more to us than our failings. He sees all the goodness and
love in us, even when we have a hard time seeing it ourselves. And so instead
of condemning us, he tells us, “Peace be with you” (John 20:19). He calls us by
name (John 20:16). He tells us that he is with us – always (Matthew 28:20)
Jesus’ resurrection is the story of life triumphing over death, a
triumph that continues today. We see it every time our faith is rejuvenated. We
see it every time God frees us from pride or guilt or worry. The Easter story
is the greatest story ever told. May we keep it close to our hearts. Every day,
may we hear Jesus tell us, “Peace be with you”.