Acts 5:12-16 / Apocalypse 1:9-13, 17-19 / John 20:19-31
The one thing that all of us have seen is the reality and the finality of life.
Yes, we have seen our loved ones and relatives and friends pass on from this world to the next.
But what is this “next world”, we do not know because no one has ever come back from the dead to tell us what it is like.
And even if someone were to come back from that “next world” to tell us what it is like, how would we react to it?
There is this story of a couple who decided to go to somewhere sunny during a particularly cold winter. They planned to stay at the same hotel where they spent their honeymoon 20 years earlier.
Because of hectic schedules, it was difficult to coordinate their travel schedules. So, the husband flew off first with his wife flying down to join him the following day. The husband checked into the hotel. There was a computer in his room, so he decided to send an email to his wife. However, he accidentally left out one letter in her email address, and without realizing his error, sent the email.
Meanwhile, in another part of the world, a widow had just returned home from her husband’s funeral. The widow decided to check her email expecting messages from relatives and friends.
After reading the first message, she screamed and fainted. The widow’s son rushed into the room, found his mother on the floor, and saw the computer screen which read:
To: My Loving Wife
Subject: I’ve Arrived
I know you’re surprised to hear from me. They have computers here now and you are allowed to send emails to your loved ones. I’ve just arrived and have checked in. I’ve seen that everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing you then.
P.S. By the way, you can be sure it is really hot down here!!!
Two things that this story tells us. One is to be careful when typing an email address. The other is that we cannot be too sure how to respond to someone who comes back from the dead.
In the gospel, when Jesus appeared to His disciples, their reaction seemed to be rather mild. Jesus came and stood among them, He said “Peace be with you”, showed them His hands and His side, and they were filled with joy.
But in the other gospels, the reaction of the disciples were quite different. Jesus had to tell them “Do not be afraid” (Mt 28:10). In the gospel of Mark (16:8) the women ran away from the tomb because they were frightened out of their wits and they said nothing to a soul for they were afraid.
And the rest of the disciples didn’t believe it when they were told that Jesus is alive (Mk 16:11). And in the gospel of Luke (24:16-17) when Jesus stood among them, the disciples were in a state of alarm and fright and they thought they were seeing a ghost.
Our own reaction would be no different from that of the disciples if we had any encounters with that of the other world.
Whether it is a white shadow or a dark shadow, or a scent or a sound, we too would be alarmed and frightened.
But that would probably mean that we are not at peace within. The disciples of Jesus were not at peace after His death because they knew what they had done.
Thomas, who is often called the “Doubter”, was also not at peace and he wanted to touch the wounds of Jesus because he himself had wounds of fear and guilt that needed to be healed.
That is why the first gift of the Risen Christ is peace. “Peace be with you” He said to His disciples.
Jesus died a horrible and painful death. Yet, His last sentence was: “It is accomplished” and “Into your hands Father I commend my spirit”. And then He breathed His last.
His death was horrible and painful, yet Jesus died in peace. He was at peace with God and with Himself.
He has forgiven those who crucified him, His mother was taken of, and His mission was accomplished.
At His last breath, Jesus had no unfinished business and He died in peace. And hence when He appeared to His disciples, His first words were “Peace be with you”.
Because He wants them to be at peace with themselves, so that they can rejoice with Him in His victory over death.
That makes us think about what will be in our hearts when we come to the last moments of our lives on this earth. Can we also say that “It is accomplished” and “Into the hands of God I commend my spirit”?
Or will there be unfinished business, like unforgiveness, anger, resentment, bitterness that are burdening our hearts?
Or, the unfinished business of regret, regret like not having told our loved ones that we love them, regret for not showing them that we love them and that we care for them.
Dying with unfinished business is not a peaceful death; in fact it may even be a painful death.
Jesus gives us His peace so that we can live in peace and die in peace. If we have the fear of death, it means that we have fears in life.
When we are at peace within, no evil can happen to us, either in life or after death.
And today as the Church celebrates Divine Mercy Sunday. This was a feast established by St. John Paul II after the request of Jesus through St. Faustina.
Let us ask the Lord for His mercy and forgiveness, so that we can be at peace with God, with others and with ourselves.
It is with God’s mercy that we can live in peace and rest in peace.
St. Theresa of Lisieux, St. Faustina, St. John Paul II, St. John XXIII and Mother Angelica, pray for us
St. Theresa of Lisieux, pray for us