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Peace, Wounds, and Breath

Place yourself with the Apostles in the Upper Room. Consider the emotions present in each heart. These men are in the very place where Jesus gave them the Eucharist and ordained them priests. The place also where each of them promised to be faithful to Him even to death. Incredible sadness and shame now filled their hearts. They had neglected His gifts and failed Him miserably. Perhaps their shame led to mutual recriminations, as it so often does.

Then there’s the situation outside the Upper Room. The religious authorities who put Jesus to death are still in power. Wouldn’t it seem reasonable for them to come for the Apostles too? Finally, by this point on Easter Sunday, the Apostles have heard about the empty tomb. Peter and John had run to it, returned, and reported it empty. It’s not immediately obvious that this is good news. If He’s alive, how would He come to them? With forgiveness or condemnation? How would He greet them? How should they greet Him?

Then, suddenly and without warning, Jesus came and stood in their midst. That is, in the midst of this fear, shame, and fragile hope. He doesn’t bring condemnation or even scolding. Instead, he brings what we celebrate today. The words and actions of the risen Lord in the Upper Room both bestow and reveal Divine Mercy.

First, Divine Mercy establishes peace: He said to them, “Peace be with you.” For the Apostles to hear those words must have been a balm to their tortured souls. He did not return to condemn them but to reconcile them with God. Which is what it means to be at peace: to be made one, once again, with God. Christ accomplished this reconciliation on the Cross and now reveals and extends it with the simple words, Peace be with you.

There are various dimensions of this peace. The Apostles are first reconciled with the Father through Christ the Son. This reconciliation comes not through any work of their own, but through the Father’s initiative and mercy in the Son. Because they are reconciled with the Father, they are also reconciled within themselves. Our division from God produces a terrible division within ourselves. Our reconciliation with Him then produces a peace within our own hearts, a reconciliation with ourselves. This also sets them at peace with one another. Because only the one at peace with God and himself can be at peace with others.

Read more at The Catholic Thing

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