Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
After the Crucifixion, think about the struggle encountered by the disciples and their response… locked doors and fearful. They did not have the benefit of hundreds of years of reflection, debate, and arriving at clarity. Their first thought and image were the awful crucifixion and death of a dear friend and the loss of hope which had filled their hearts.
Jesus comes before them. Peace be with you! After the Resurrection, Jesus reassured his disciples with the greeting, Peace be with you. This Peace is truly what He came to offer us; the Peace which comes from the womb of God’s love for us – and we are asked to love one another, as He loves us.
Signs and wonders are a form of divine communication. Jesus’ presence among His disciples and other signs He offered guided the people to believe and profess Christ, not dead, but truly alive in their midst.
Today’s world in which we help, with God’s guidance, to shape and form, may give us pause to think that we still linger behind closed doors and are fearful. Many of us point to random shootings, the knowledge of abuse within the church by its leaders, allowing the killing of children within the womb to justify our locked doors and fear. Yet, God entrusted His earth to us. He offers us all the gifts of the earth to flourish His Kingdom. He tells us, ‘be not afraid.’ Do My work. Be responsible stewards. He teaches us about right relationships and He pursues us with inimitable love and then asks us to do the same. Even today, if we are in tune with God, we also receive signs and wonders to encourage us!
Where are these signs and wonders revealed today? During Holy Week at the Chrism Mass on April 17, the oils were blessed for the Sacraments of Initiation and Anointing. We recognized 9 jubilarians celebrating 25 and 50 years anointed as ordained priests. In our Diocese, 514 catechumens received the Sacraments of Baptism, First Communion and Confirmation during the Easter Vigil and 482 candidates came into full communion with the Church, professing their belief in our triune God! This sign of great faith by these people of all ages is truly the gift of Peace.
The month of May is also a month set aside for the celebration of First Communion. Soon our young children will come before the table of the Lord, eagerly awaiting the Bread of Life to be offered to them. One of my friend’s children said before receiving her First Communion, “You know, mom, I am hungry too.” Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI recently stated in an essay, “The Second Vatican Council was rightly focused on returning this Sacrament of the Presence of the Body and Blood of Christ, of the Presence of His Person, of His Passion, Death and Resurrection, to the center of Christian life and the very existence of the Church. In part, this really has come about, and we should be most grateful to the Lord for it.” I am grateful for our parents and guardians who do make living as Jesus’ disciples a priority for their families. We also celebrate graduations of eighth graders, high school students, and college students whom we form knowing the love of God that they too participate in sharing His Peace with one another.
Peace be with you! May we extend that Peace in all that we do. May Mary, Mother of God, watch over us in service of humanity, of peace, of the spread of God’s Kingdom!
Bishop John Noonan
Diocese of Orlando
April 2019, 2019