ACTS 4:32-35 1 JOHN 5:1-6 JOHN 20:19-31
Easter Sunday’s account of the resurrection related that, very early Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene discovered that the body of Jesus was no longer in the tomb. Running back to the place where the disciples were in hiding, she told them of her discovery. Immediately, Peter and John left the group and returned with her to the garden tomb. We were told that Peter didn’t know what to make of it, but that John had looked into the tomb “and believed.” The two men returned to their place of hiding leaving Mary Magdalene weeping at the tomb.
This Sunday’s gospel takes us to the disciples’ place of hiding. It’s evening. The doors are locked. The disciples are very fearful. Will the Sanhedrin dispatch temple guards to arrest them as they did Jesus? Two of them have already abandoned the group and fled the city. We’ll read their story next Sunday. The others are still contemplating their next move.
Jesus suddenly appears to them. He greets them with the familiar “shalom,” and immediately shows them his hands and his side. The marks of his crucifixion are still there even though he seems robust and healthy. Again, he reinforces his
wish of peace for them extending the greeting of “shalom” for a second time. They can’t be fearful if they’re going to be able to grasp what he’s about to ask them to do. “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
His greeting of “shalom” is meant to heal them of their fear. Normally “shalom” would be accompanied with a kiss on both cheeks, but today Jesus comes up to each one and breathes on them. He’s repeating what was done long ago. “And the Lord God formed man out of the clay of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and so man became a living being.” They’re to be new people, brave, free from fear, filled with the breath of the Spirit.
He commissioned them to liberate men and women from their slavery to the world and its sin – to clothe themselves with Christ – to be Christ in the world. Their mission is our mission. Easter isn’t just a commemoration of Christ’s resurrection. It’s the day of renewal for every one of us who have been baptized into Christ, who carry the joyful burden of love and healing of Christ. Easter is the day each of us hears him say, “As the Father has sent me, so I send You.”