On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”
This story of John tells about when Mary discovered the empty tomb and then the vision of Christ risen. We see here a group of frightened believers, and it’s not so difficult to imagine their talking in that endless waiting. While they were locked in Jesus came and with such words he broke their fear and tension: “Peace be with you!”. The encounter with the Risen One brings peace, is based on peace and requires peace. Then when they saw His wounds and recognized Him, “they were overjoyed”. So from the fear cleared by the peace, it comes the joy. But every emotion is then stopped as the announced peace is a prelude to “I’m sending you”. It takes something extraordinary to give awareness, courage and sincerity. That’s why we read “Receive the Holy Spirit”, whose action is realized in the forgiveness of sins. Peace, joy, Spirit and mercy: this is the identikit of the church of the risen Lord, who is called to go out from a closed place and to be witness to the ends of the earth.
Marcus Loane, anglican archbishop of Sydney, tells when he once went to visit a friend of his, Howard Guinness, who was the founder of the Evangelical Alliance of the University of Sydney. Loane always thought it was really important to ask his dying friends “Do you have peace with God?”, just to know if they were in the right relation with God. Guinness who was dying for a voice box cancer, could barely speak and shook his head: “No”. After so many years in the ministry Marcus Loane was worried that his brother in Christ could say just before die “No, I do not have peace with God”. Then Howard Guinness wheezed trying to say something, so Marcus came near his mouth and Howard said: “Not peace, but joy! Overflowing joy!” That’s what he had in the midst of the death, while facing this he had complete satisfaction.