By Father John P. Cush
Imagine what it must have been like for the Apostles. Just imagine what it would have been like for them, hiding in that room, in the days after the Passion, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus.
The reports were coming in from Mary Magdalene, the Apostle to the Apostles, that the Lord was risen, truly risen. Certainly the Apostles were, no doubt, overjoyed with this news. But I bet that mixed in with that joy, was also a certain amount of fear, a little bit of apprehension. After all, what would Jesus say to them?
Betrayed By All
Each of the Apostles, in his own way, betrayed Jesus. It wasn’t just Judas, who sold the Lord out and then despaired. It wasn’t just Peter, who explicitly denied even knowing the Lord Jesus three times. Every single one of them failed Jesus. In His hour of need, when He asked them to watch and pray with Him, when He underwent His agony in the garden, the Apostles couldn’t even do that; they fell asleep.
When the Lord was about to be taken away by the guards, they all scattered like frightened children. In His passion on the Cross, only the beloved disciple John and the women, His Blessed Mother and the Magdalene, remained.
Three long years they were with Jesus. The Word made flesh imparted to them the words of eternal life. These first priests of the New Covenant gathered with Him in the Cenacle and were the first to receive the bread of life and chalice of salvation. And still, they failed. They ran.
And now Jesus was back.
What would He do when He met them? Would He have righteous indignation? He had every right to say: “You all left me; you all abandoned me; How dare you?”
And yet, when the Lord Jesus appears, He says four little words; when He stands in their midst, He says four very different words than what I would have said to these guys.
Jesus, meek and humble of heart; Jesus, the just one; Jesus just looks at them, standing there in His glorified body and says to them these four little words: Peace be with you.
The Divine Mercy
He says this for He is in their midst; He himself is peace. Jesus says this because He is the Divine Mercy.
Mark’s Gospel, which we proclaimed yesterday, tells us a little more bluntly, “He rebuked them for their lack of faith and for the hardness of heart in not believing those to whom he had appeared.”
But the Evangelists say absolutely nothing about any words of rebuke that the Lord Jesus could have said to Peter and the others about their abandonment of Him. He forgives them.
What would we do? Are we women and men of forgiveness, of mercy, of the second chance, both for ourselves and for others?
Jesus is the Lord of Mercy; He is reconciliation itself. Pray this week that our words can be “peace be with you” to all those whom we encounter in our lives.
Readings for the Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday
Acts 2: 42-47
Psalm 118: 2-4, 13-15, 22-24
1 Peter 1: 3-9
John 20: 19-31
Father Cush, a priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn, serves as academic dean of the Pontifical North American College, and as an assistant professor of theology and U.S. Catholic Church history.