“When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.” (See John 20:19-31 NRSV).
This morning the Rev. Anna V. Ostenso Moore at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral preached an excellent sermon on the words in John’s Gospel quoted above. She spent time talking about the doors of the house where the Disciples were locked because of their fear. Though the doors were locked and they were afraid, the Risen Christ appeared among them and brought them His peace.
When fear grips us we tend to lock the doors of hearts. We want to hide and keep everyone including Jesus out. Whatever happened and from wherever the fear comes from, when we allow ourselves to be consumed to the point that we lock ourselves up, it becomes very difficult to hear the Risen Christ speak to our hearts. Whether the fear is created by the same doubt that Thomas had, or because of things within ourselves that we run from; they are no match for the power and love of the Risen Christ and God’s love for us.
As we read further into the Gospel story for today, we see that the fear and the locked doors did not keep the Risen Christ out. He still came among His followers and wished them peace. The gigantic leap of faith in Thomas’ doubt enabled him to see beyond his own apprehension, the Risen Christ before him, with His wounded hands, feet and side within arms reach.
Fr. Cornelius Wencel, Er.Cam. in his book The Eremitic Life: Encountering God in Silence and Solitude wrote,
“The search for God and the result of renewal of heart leads us to the encounter of a mystery, where we attempt to perceive it with our whole self. This is a continuous effort to encounter a reality that infinitely eludes every endeavor to define or grasp it” (See page 53).
The contemplative sees their fear and even locked doors as an opportunity to encounter the Living God. Fear in the heart of those who truly seek God within their whole self is never an end in and of itself. The Sacred Scriptures and our faith tell us that Jesus who is Risen is our beginning and end. There is no fear, no event, no doubt that we may harbor that has the power to keep the Risen Christ from coming to bring us His peace and lead us into the mysticism of a deeper experience of God’s loving presence.
[Abba Nilus] said, “Do not be always wanting everything to turn out as you think it should, but rather as God pleases, then you will be undisturbed and thankful in your prayer.” (Desert Fathers and Mothers: Early Christian Wisdom Sayings Annotated & Explained by Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, p.61).
“What dear brothers, is more delightful than this voice of the Lord calling to us?” (RB 1980: The Rule of St. Benedict in English, p.16).
Can you identify a place with a locked door in your life? Will you let the Risen Christ come and bring you His peace?
Peace be with all who enter here.
Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB-CoS
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