When someone asks, “How are you?” and we answer, “I’m OK” and they ask again perhaps with a look of concern on their face, “Really, How are you?” Then we usually pause to wonder if something is wrong that we are not seeing, but the other person can see. Must have been what happened in the room behind locked doors. Not only were the disciples trembling in their sandals, their faces must have shown the guilt at having run away when Jesus most needed them. “Peace be with you” is how people greeted each other. Any time a phrase is repeated in the Bible—importance is being given to the words. Jesus repeated the greeting, “Peace be with you.” The group must have looked terrible. They felt they had done something wrong.
Think back when we were children. If we did something wrong the first reaction was to run and hide. We might have tried to put the blame on whoever was at hand. “My brother made me do it.” “My sister made me do it.” Even the devil got blamed—“The devil made me do it.” At the Barrera home, justice was best served if we didn’t run. We learned to try to face up to the wrong we had done and suffer the consequences—at least in theory—I still ran. Mesquite trees were a good refuge. Mother couldn’t climb. By the time Dad got home, he was too indifferent to punish us for what was being blown out of proportion—just a little gum on my sister’s hair. It was a scientific experiment. Children inevitably get into trouble. Unfortunately a human trait we never outgrow. The disciples were obviously in trouble. They had chosen to run and hide. But where can we hide from the Hound of Heaven? Where can we hide from God? He finds us even in our denial—in our anger at Him—in our frustration with ourselves. Jesus finds us in order to heal the broken hearted. Yet, we keep running—still hiding—continue to be afraid.
One reason is that Divine Justice has always gotten more publicity than Divine Mercy. Old tapes keep playing in the back of our mind, “Remember, God is watching.” “God is going to punish you.” “No one escapes the wrath of God.” Truth be told, we all escape the wrath of God because none of us gets what we deserve. That’s why Jesus suffered and died and rose from the dead—to set us free. The debt has been paid. We don’t have to keep track of our sins because they have already been forgiven. Everything we do by way of devotions is for us, not for God.
We cannot possibly convince God to love us because He already does. We have to convince ourselves that the Victory has been won. Peace be with you. After all the years of spreading the Good News, the words have not yet reached our heart—otherwise we wouldn’t be so worried. “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Same as saying, unless I go to confession so many times, pray X number of rosaries, light 10 candles—God is not going to love me. Thomas wanted to be in control—so do we. Faith is not about being in control but about giving up control—surrendering to what we will never understand. How can God love us so much—when we know that we guilty? Divine Mercy means acquittal. No question—we are guilty as charged but we have been acquitted. We are cleared of wrongdoing. A marvelous feeling when we allow the words to sink in. “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Forgiveness starts with ourselves. We are all “damaged goods”. Everyone of us is wounded. The Risen Lord is here—just as present as He was to the original group. He has the same purpose in mind—to forgive us and to commission us to forgive each other. The more we let go of the hurt the freer we are to untie the bonds we have with others.
Easter gives birth to a fresh start. No looking back. Peace is God’s gift to us. Peace be with you.