The disciples that we met yesterday on their way home to Emmaus from Jerusalem turned back immediately upon realizing that Jesus had visited them. As they were recounting the story of their encounter to the other disciples, Jesus appeared to the group – in a less dense body, it seems, since they thought he was a ghost and were frightened. His first words to them were, “Peace be with you.” What struck me this morning about that was the fact that nothing had changed in the disciples’ lives except that Jesus was there. The bottom had fallen out of their world with his death. They were still afraid of authorities who knew of their association with Jesus. They were still traumatized by the events of the past week. They now had no future, it seemed, since their leader had been discredited so they were without a job. (They probably could have resumed life as fishermen…) Mostly they were just terrified and confused. So when Jesus appeared counseling peace, it’s understandable that they were incredulous. In an effort to normalize the situation, Jesus asked for something to eat – an activity that probably would not be part of a ghost’s routine. After eating, he once again set out to explain to them his mission and the reasons for the way it played out. Perhaps they grasped some of it more clearly than before, but it remained for them to wait for the Spirit of God, poured out on Pentecost, for them to have the courage needed to take up their own mission in service to what Jesus had started.
The peace that Jesus wished them then changed nothing of their outer circumstances. Nor, I would wager, was this peace an instant remedy for their distress of heart/soul. But it was a promise and a presence. I will reflect on this today, as I consider the concerns I hold in my heart – both small and large – for the world, for the accomplishment of my own work and for those people who populate my prayer intentions. I shall ask for patience and fearlessness because I know the presence of Christ and for the promise of deliverance from fear and distress for all those in need.
Peace be with you!