His presence spoke more powerfully than therapy, psychoanalysis, healing services—one look of forgiveness put the disciples back on track to loving themselves and able to love others. They had all run away. Judas betrayed Him, but in essence, all of the Apostles betrayed Him. Fear dominated the hearts of the followers the day that Jesus was crucified. Fear caused them to hide behind locked doors. They didn’t want to die. Nobody wants to die. Most normal people don’t go looking for trouble. We try to avoid conflicts. The disciples knew that they were in danger because of their association with Jesus. Much happened within a few short days. Just like in our own life—within a short time span—our whole life has changed. Everybody can smell tragedy, disaster, bad news. Bad news is all that we hear. Once in a while the number of those who have recuperated is given. Other than that, the word is, “Stay home, stay safe, shop online.” (I watch a little TV too.) But frankly, the majority of the reports promote fear. Apart from following the directives we have been clearly given, what can we do? Besides staying home, washing our hands, wearing masks when we are in public, what can we do? Seeing the numbers rise throughout the world will not help us. If we are not convinced of the danger we are facing by now—we are pretty dumb. The early Christians knew that they were in danger. Every day they received reports of family, neighbors, best friends being arrested or killed. The turning point was Jesus Christ. When Jesus appeared to them and said, “Peace be with you”, everything changed. The danger was still present, but they were no longer afraid.
With just a few words, “Peace be with you” each one heard what he/she needed to hear. The doubt, the cheating, the gossip—whatever offense was in their heart was healed in the presence of Jesus. Granted that our church buildings are closed, and we have not been able to receive Holy Communion in over a month, but no one can take His presence away. We are the only ones who have the power to shut the door on Divine Mercy. The Lord always leaves us free. If we choose to remain in fear, if we want to stay in the dark and if we desire to continue living in lies—Jesus will not violate our freedom.
Now is the time to question our freedom. Are we truly free when there is a rise in family violence because children have to stay home and parents do not know what to do? Are we free since the distractions of going out have been curtailed? Freedom does not come from doing what we want but from doing what God wants. God’s will is easy to discern. Out of all the Commandments in the Law, Jesus gave us only one: Love God and love your neighbor as yourself. The two are really one since they are intimately connected. When we love people, we are loving God. Love starts at home, especially during this time when our patience might have been tested. Takes love to comply with the restrictions implemented for our safety. Takes love to wait in line to buy a few products. God allows negative things to happen for our benefit, when we trust. We cannot undo the damage already caused by the virus, but we can help to control the spread. Requires love—respect for people we’ve never met—people with the right to life. The small group of frightened disciples behind locked doors received the gift of love. After Jesus appeared to them in His glorified body and freed them from their fear; the disciples were ready to die for Christ. They became invincible. The disciples were ready to believe in the promise: “The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood will never die.” “I go to prepare a place for you, so where I am, you also may be.”
Our vocation is to live each day to the fullest, in joy—grateful for the many blessings which surround us. One day we will come out from behind locked doors to announce all the good that God has done for us.