Sent out in peace

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4 Apr 2018

Second Sunday of Easter (John 20:19-31)

Mary Magdalene has returned from the empty tomb after her surprise encounter with Jesus. She has told the disciples about meeting the risen Lord. But they do not let her joyful news sink in. They gather by night and lock the doors to the house. The fear among the group is infectious and the air is thick with anticipation.

When Jesus arrives on the scene he brings peace. He shows the disciples his wounds. The reaction is immediate: ‘The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.’ And yet how slow they were to believe Mary of Magdala’s good news!

Perhaps noticing how the atmosphere has changed, Jesus repeats his consoling words. ‘Peace be with you’. After this he calls the disciples to mission: ‘As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’

Jesus’ breath confirms the gathered disciples with the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit transforms everything, providing them with a renewed vision which will animate all deeds to come. The disciples are to be ambassadors of Jesus’ forgiving kindness and love.

Thomas, however, who was away from the scene, only hears news of Jesus’ presence. Needing the assurance of seeing with his own eyes, he waits for a return visit from Jesus. He wants to see for himself the nail marks; he wants to touch the wounds.

A week later he gets his chance. When invited to press his finger against Jesus’ hands and put his hand in his side, Thomas is struck down in awe. Invited to believe, he reaches for the most intimate of words. ‘My Lord and my God!’ What more is there to say?

Each disciple leaves the house with a new heart ready for mission. Each one will go out to bring good news of comfort and peace direct from the risen Lord. In bearing witness to his resurrection, they will walk with joy in their steps.

Prayer prompts:

I would like to spend time in the presence of the risen Lord. I read John 20:19-23 prayerfully.

I ask for the grace to receive Jesus’ peace.

I open my heart and make an act of reverence before God.

As Jesus says ‘peace be with you’ I feel him calling me back to myself.

I hear him say ‘peace be with you’ a second time. I rest in his loving gaze.

Jesus anoints me with the words ‘As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ I wait for these tender words to sink deep within my being.

Jesus breathes on me. I feel his breath warm my heart.

I hear Jesus say ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’. I receive this as the gift I need to carry out my mission.

I stay awhile in Jesus’ presence interacting and spending time together as friends do.

Glory be to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning
is now and ever shall be
world without end. Amen.

James O'Brien is a Masters of Teaching student at ACU Melbourne.
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