The Gift of Peace
Third Sunday of Easter
April 19, 2015
We live in an age of “instant replays.” Everything is fair game for recording, including tragic events. For example, “body cams” and “dash cams” of law enforcement have proven of great interest and use to the press. On a good “bad news day,” the cell phone video of witnesses to a tragedy also surface and the cumulative result of all of this footage offers “proof positive” as to how the most recent tragedy unfolded. But does it really?
The families, friends, support network, spokespersons, and attorneys of the people touched by the event very often interpret what they see recorded in entirely different ways. Investigating authorities, and eventually jurors, focus frame by frame on what should be indisputable. Nevertheless, there will be discussion, debate, and flat out disagreement over just exactly what happened and why. We bring our own opinions, beliefs, values, emotions, feelings, and prejudices to what we see. Seeing might be believing…but believing doesn’t always mean what we think we see…and what we believe leads us to the absolute truth!
This is so with the Apostles and disciples fresh from giving witness to the horrifically violent events of Good Friday. They may not have understood “why”…but those who were eye witnesses needed no further proof that Jesus was dead. They saw water pour from His side. The Body of Christ had been entirely emptied of The Precious Blood. And, for those who were not actual witnesses, video evidence was unnecessary. The looks of terror and despair on the faces of His followers who were there was convincing enough.
But then Easter morning dawned. People were seeing things that were not so easy to believe. Their minds argued and debated with their own vision. Mary Magdalene thought He was a gardener. Walking dejectedly back to Emmaus, the two mistook their traveling companion for a stranger. In this Sunday’s Gospel, those involved believed that they were seeing a ghost!
Knowing that our minds and our eyes “play tricks on us” in different ways, the Risen Christ offered proof of His Resurrection. In Mary’s case, it was His voice speaking her name…”Mary!” In Emmaus, it was the breaking of the bread; with Thomas, it was His wounds. And in this Sunday’s Gospel, the proof that Jesus lives was in the great gift of His Peace. And so, they began to believe to be true what they saw with their own eyes…but nevertheless doubted or misunderstood. The experience of the Risen Christ was so powerful and convincing that most of them suffered a martyr’s death for what they had come to believe. There are no videos of this.
Still, modern technology is capturing clear and convincing evidence that followers of Jesus Christ continue to believe, even to the point of suffering a violent death. In different parts of the world, Christians are being separated from non-Christians as video cameras capture their brutal murders. How can it be that after over 2000 years, Christian disciples continue to believe that Christ is Risen…even without seeing a video? The proof is in the Eucharist.
From the Table of the Word, we hear His voice speaking to us…healing, forgiving, and calming our storms. From the Communion Table, we see Him in the breaking of the bread. As we gather for Eucharist and look around at the Body of Christ, we have the same opportunity to do what Thomas did…touch “the wounds”…by reaching out to those less fortunate, who come to join their sufferings to the Lord’s. And, when we gather together as Jesus commanded, we experience and share His Peace! If you need proof that Christ is Risen, a video simply won’t do it for you. But, in order to believe, you need only come to the banquet of life…not an instant replay….but the experience of actually sharing in the Lord’s Supper!