“On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, there were no bunnies, no Easter eggs, no family reunions—there was fear. The trusted friends of Jesus had all run away when He needed them the most. They were still afraid for their lives.
Obviously looked doors could not keep Jesus out. He came and stood right before them. In all of the Post-Resurrection accounts Jesus never says what the majority of us would have said, “Where were you when I needed you? Why did you run? You are definitely not worthy of being called my disciples!” Such a reaction would have been typical for someone who was angry, vindictive, legalistic. Jesus was forgiving. He absolved them when he said, “Peace be with you.” Then He confirmed them in the Faith, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Then He ordained them to absolve others, “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” The whole evening revolved around forgiveness. Naturally the Church had not developed the Sacramental teaching about Reconciliation—but Reconciliation happened. Being forgiven feels great!—like a liberating experience. However, we often keep Reconciliation to ourselves. Lots of folks go to others parishes or go to the Basilica to a priest they’ve never met. Our sins are a private matter and a priest will never betray the seal of confession. But the fact that we have been forgiven should not be a private matter. We should have a party!—calls for a celebration.
Without trying to sound critical, there are pious parishioners who come to Confession every week. That’s perfectly OK. But in their case, Confession is more of a devotion—like coming on the First Saturday or on Divine Mercy Weekend. No problem. Yet, in looking at the Theology behind the Sacrament, first comes the serious sin, then the hunger for forgiveness. Serious sins are rare. The majority of us are just people who are trying to follow Jesus Christ—trying to do our best. We know that we are not perfect. Our life is two steps forwards and three steps backwards. The worst that can happen is for us to become complacent, apathetic, or to distance ourselves from the grace of the Sacrament. Extremes are not healthy—to go to Confession every few days or to stay away for 30 years.
Often we confuse temptations with sins, especially thoughts. Thoughts are usually temptations and temptations are not sinful in themselves—only if we choose to act upon them. The beauty of Reconciliation is that everything is forgiven. Jesus did not ask the disciples for an explanation. He did not accuse them. The Lord did not demand details of their sins. Jesus simply said, “Peace be with You.” Basically, “You are forgiven.” With forgiveness comes true peace. Notice that the disciples did not stay behind closed doors. They couldn’t wait to get out and tell others that Jesus was alive. Christianity spread because of their testimony. Question: How many souls have we brought to the Church? To whom have we witnessed about the freedom of forgiveness? If we remain tight-lipped about our Faith we are missing opportunities to evangelize. Lent is over, but Easter is all year long. We are an Easter people. If we believe that Jesus is alive, acting in our life—then we cannot remain silent. Let our actions show what is in our heart. Actions speak louder than words. Time to get out from behind closed doors.
We are here because the first Christians did not keep quiet. Countless are waiting for the words of liberation. We want to speak as Jesus taught, in the face of the guilty we say, “Peace be with you.”