St. John 20:19-31 Quasimodogeniti, the Octave of Easter
Topic: Easter 2020
St. John 20:19-31 Quasimodogeniti, the Octave of Easter, 2020 A.+D.
In the Name of the Father, and of the +Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
His first Words were Words of peace. It was a peace for which they had great need. They were locked away in fear. They feared the Jews. They feared death. And into the midst of their fear the Prince of Peace entered miraculously, and brought peace.
It was the first day of the week, the Day of Resurrection. The doors were shut for fear, St. John records. The risen Lord appeared miraculously in their midst. He said to the “Peace be with you.” Then, that they have the peace He promised, He showed them His hands and His side.
His Word of Promise was accompanied by tangible, visible symbols. They saw the nail prints. They saw the spear thrust. They knew that it was the Lord, the One crucified on the sixth day, now risen and alive on the eighth day.
St. John records the reaction of the disciples: they were glad. They were glad when they saw the Lord. They knew the peace He promised. That peace lay in the keeping of His Word. He had promised that He would be arrested, mocked, tortured, and crucified. He had promised that He would defeat death.
He had promised to fulfill the sign of Jonah. He had promised that He would rise to new life. And on the third day He kept His promise. So on that day, the first day of the week, their faith received its reward. The disciples were glad. His Words brought them comfort, consolation, hope, and peace.
Again He spoke peace to them. And then the disciples became Apostles. The Lord spoke to them saying “As the Father has sent me, I also send you.” They went from being locked away in that room, hiding, afraid, to being the voices that would bring the Report of Christ crucified and risen to the world. They were no longer afraid.
This fallen world surrounds you with threats and dangers. By all reports, there is an unseen menace among us that can be transmitted through human contact. You might have it unknowingly. You might inadvertently infect someone else, even a loved one. You might catch it yourself and become very ill. This invisible, silent enemy can kill. That can strike fear in your heart.
The economy is fragile. Many are out of work. Just going to the store is a risk. But the pandemic can only kill the body. Sin, unbelief, transgression – they can kill the soul. And they don’t go away when you stay at home. So perhaps you have felt like the disciples felt. Perhaps you have been locked in your room, or your house, afraid. Perhaps, in the face of affliction, discord, sickness and uncertainty, you have been plagued with doubt and anxiety. Then the Lord’s Words are Words for you: “Peace be with you!” He lives! He is risen! And His Word of peace is for you.
See through the eyes of the Beloved Disciple. See the Lord’s miraculous presence in that locked room. He enters that place of fear to end fear, just as He entered the place of death, the tomb, to end death. Hear His promise of peace. See His hands, the place where the spikes fastened Him to the cross. See His side, the wound that manifested the sure signs of His physical death – the Blood and Water.
Receive the Apostle’s report, the testimony of the women, the angelic homily – the Lord is risen! Do not be afraid! Do not be unbelieving, but believing! Confess with faithful Thomas “My Lord and my God!” For these things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His Name.
In Christ, the world can harm you none. The same Apostle that testifies to the Lord’s miraculous appearance in that closed room writes to the Church “Whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”
There are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Spirit. “These Three are One”, writes the Apostle, an affirmation of the Holy Trinity, a confession of the Unity and Equality of the Three Persons in One God, and One God in Three Persons.
And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the Water, and the Blood. For by the Spirit faith receives the Gospel, the Truth that Water and Blood testified to Christ’s death, and the Truth that by Water and Blood the same Christ is brought to you. For it is by the Spirit that you are filled with faith in the Baptismal water, and it is by the Spirit that faith receives Christ in the Holy Eucharist, where He makes His Blood your drink.
It is there, in His Holy Mysteries, that He places His Word with His Promise and with a Visible Element, that you may hear and believe, that you may be washed, that you may eat and drink and receive the crucified and risen Christ. It is there that He works the forgiveness of your sins. It is there that He works and strengthens your faith.
“Peace be with you”, the Lord said. He brought them a peace that overcame their fear. And He brings that same peace to you. He brings you the peace that passes all understanding, the peace of Christ. For by His death are your sins forgiven, and by His rising to new life are you declared to be holy and blameless before God.
And that forgiveness, that holiness, that blamelessness, is proclaimed to you by Christ’s called and ordained servant, to whom He promised “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” In Christ, dear Christian, your sins are forgiven. In Christ, Christ crucified, Christ risen, you are reconciled to God. You are born of God, in Him you overcome the world.
Moses writes that Jacob saw God face to face and lived. St. John writes that Thomas saw the same. And Thomas, full of faith, confessed the same. He saw the nail prints in Jesus’ hands. He placed his hand into Jesus’ side. He saw and believed. He saw with earthly eyes. You see not with earthly eyes, but with the eyes of faith. So the Lord’s promise is for you: “Blessed are you who have not seen and yet have believed.”
In the Name of the Father, and of the+Son, and of the Holy Ghost.