Second Sunday of Easter

2024년 4월 7일

“Shalom aleichem!” “Peace be with you!”

Our celebration of the Resurrection continues with today’s gospel story of the Risen Lord appearing to the disciples even though the doors were locked. And why were they locked? The gospel of John says, “For fear of the Jews.”  This passage always makes me smile as it brings back a memory of when I was a freshman at Albany State University. I had a Jewish roommate and we didn’t get along in the beginning because he thought I was being insensitive to major in the German language. I tried to explain that I was neither a German nor a Nazi, but he wasn’t convinced. Over the months of that first year, we tried to understand one another. During spring break, he invited me to attend  a synagogue service. I found it inspiring to hear Jesus’ people praying in Hebrew, the language that Jesus prayed in. I then invited my roommate to come with me for Mass and it happened to be the Second Sunday of Easter and the gospel was the same as we just heard today. Well, when we got to the part about the apostles hiding behind locked doors “for fear of the Jews”, he gave me a look that could curdle milk. But our discussion after Mass finally helped us understand one another.

I reminded him that Jesus was Jewish, the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph were Jewish, and all the apostles, including St. Paul, were Jewish. I suggested to my roommate that the disciples hid behind locked doors because they feared one Jew in particular: Jesus! After all, when Jesus was crucified, all the other disciples–except for John–fled. So that Easter morning when Mary Magdalene (also Jewish!) announced, “Jesus is risen!” their joy immediately turned into fear of Jesus. Then suddenly in their midst there stood Jesus, risen from the dead. He didn’t scold them. He didn’t call them cowards. He showed them his wounds and said, “Peace be with you!” The very words of Jesus “Shalom aleichem” are said by Jews as a greeting to this very day. And this is the meaning of Easter and why today is Mercy Sunday: that although we are sinful and weak and have denied and deserted Jesus over and over again, he stands today within our locked hearts and offers us peace.