By Rev. Ray E. Atwood Sacred Heart Parish, La Porte City
Behind Closed Doors
We can only imagine the uncertainty and even terror of the Apostles after Our Lord’s death. The Master they loved was arrested, tortured, convicted, and crucified. All but John, Mary, and a few faithful women fled the scene. They didn’t want to suffer the same torments.
The place where the disciples were assembled on Easter Sunday evening was the Upper room, where Our Lord celebrated the First Eucharist only seventy-two hours previously. Fear had motivated them to lock and bolt the doors, lest the Sanhedrin break in and arrest them on the false charge of stealing the Body. They waited for an angry mob to break in. But instead of an angry mob, someone else appears.
Though the doors were shut, suddenly in the midst of them appeared the risen Lord, who greeted them with the words: “Peace be with you” (Lk. 24:36). He had told the women at the tomb to rejoice, and now He tells His frightened disciples to be at peace. He came in His own Person to deliver this message. Peace is the fruit of justice. Only when the injustice of sin against God had been requited could there be true peace. They were astonished and gladdened to know that death was a comma rather than a period in the story of salvation.
One week later, Jesus appeared again, and offered the gift of peace to the first professed agnostic, Thomas the doubter. Thomas saw and believed, and became a model for all believers. At the time the doors were locked and barred, but Jesus came through them and offered peace and the gift of the Spirit. The Apostles were empowered to forgive sins (which is why Catholic priests hear Confession. We believe the power to forgive sins is shared with priests, who exercise it in the name of the Lord Himself. If we don’t hear Confessions, how can we exercise the power to bind and loose?). Their lives and our Church would never be the same.
Like those Apostles, we sometimes lock the doors of our hearts. We are afraid, ashamed, or too proud to admit we are wrong, or maybe we don’t want God to pull us out of our comfort zones. But the Lord can pass through barriers, and often does. He prefers to come to open hearts and homes, and will do so if we allow Him.
As we celebrate this second Sunday of Easter, may the Lord find the doors of our hearts wide open and ready to receive His glorious Body and precious Presence.