Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you”.
(John 20:19 NKJV)
The heart of Easter is much more than gathering around a table to share delicious dishes, and among these some that remotely remember Christ sacrificed for us. In this period, on the other hand, there are not a few who live in the fear of a pandemic that we are unable to remove. The event that, despite everything, we should remember and make our own is the fact that, after dying, Jesus was resurrected. What is the point of believing in the incarnation of the Son, of having made himself like us and dying atoning for our sin in the eyes of God, if we then fail to open ourselves to eternity? The risen Jesus, and nothing else, is the center of Christianity. The resurrection of Christ is the beating heart of the gospel, the central, founding aspect, as the Gospels narrate even if we read them backwards, in chronological-biological order with respect to the life of Jesus. But, in reality, the resurrection is the starting point of Christian history. We must recognize how Western Christianity is not very sensitive to this event, preferring to reflect on the humanity of Christ (just think of the attention paid to Christmas) and on his death on the cross. Without his resurrection his promises would have no value and power. But if he is truly risen, then his words take on a whole new meaning. We then understand Thomas's request, who wants to believe but needs proof (John 20:25).
John's gospel insists on belief as a necessary means of receiving eternal life and seeing the glory of God, to the point that the last verses clearly tell us that the purpose of the entire writing is to contribute to believing, and to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the only means to have life. The writer must have known the difficulty of the many in this regard. In fact, he does not miss the episode of Thomas to which the risen Christ exhorts: "Do not beunbelieving, but believing" (John 20:27-29), even if at the same time he subjected the wounds of his hands and side to him. Previously it was Martha who had to confront the Lord who asked her if she believed in her words (John11: 25-27). Mark instead offers us the dialogue of a father in search of liberation for his son prey to a spirit. "Jesus said to him, “Ifyou can believe, all things are possible to him who believes”. Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”" (Mark 9:23-24). When believing needs a concretization in reality then it is necessary to deal with one's own disbelief: “if you can…”, wanting, being able, believing! Blessed be the Lord who comes to meet us and helps us.
Today more than yesterday it is necessary to look out at the tomb and re-discover that the One who wanted (or thought to be) dead is risen. Like the women who went to the tomb, we must deal with the words of the angels: “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen!” (Luke 24:5-6). It is here that the words addressed by the cross to one of the robbers “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43) take value and find their fulfillment. And also those addressed to the disciples "I am going to prepare a place for you..." (John 14:2) project into a new dimension. After the resurrection, the disciples were disconcerted but Jesus appeared in their midst, accompanied by the only announcement capable of dispelling fear and softening the tension: "Peace be with you". The apparition reported at the conclusion of the Gospel by Matthew closes with the words: "Now behold, I am with you every day, until the end of the present age. Amen".
Dear reader, He still visits us today, bringing us his peace. He is with you if you are with him, if you open yourself to faith beyond the tomb. Shalom!
Weekly Bible Reading
April 05, 1 Samuel 1-3; Luke 8:26-56
April 06, 1 Samuel 4-6; Luke 9:1-17
April 07, 1 Samuel 7-9; Luke 9:18-36
April 08, 1 Samuel 10-12; Luke 9:37-62
April 09, 1 Samuel 13-14; Luke 10:1-24
April 10, 1 Samuel 15-16; Luke 10:25-42
April 11, 1 Samuel 17-18; Luke 11:1-28
Foto di Brett Theriault, www.freeimages.com