Acts 4:32-35; Psalm 133; 1 John 1:1-2:2; John 20:19-31
“Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.” – Buddha
In the Gospel according to John, Jesus is the very Word of God, one with God. He himself is the one Word that brings peace. Peace is what the Apostles lack. Jesus came back from the realm of the dead after only three days. He left his tomb behind, empty. But look at today’s story of Jesus’ visit to the apostles. They are still caught in their tomb behind the locked doors of the house, after eight days. Without peace they are as good as dead. Jesus visits them and twice says “Peace be with you,” having to repeat it in case they didn’t hear it the first time. Then he says it a third time a week later. Because of fear in their hearts they have no peace, and remain locked up. Eventually they do unlock the doors and know that they are sent. Their subsequent lives were not free of conflict, not even from conflict among themselves. Christians have from the very beginning been prone to be at odds with each other. But the peace that Jesus gives is not freedom from discord, verbal or physical. It is rather an inner calm in the midst of strife. Jesus did not call them out of their tomb because there would be no catastrophes in their lives. That’s why elsewhere Jesus says that he did not come to bring peace (Matthew 10:34 and Luke 12:51), peace understood in the more conventional way. But he does give another kind of peace that surpasses understanding. Peace is calmly living on the edge, betwixt and between the ups and downs of life. Who can be at peace when our world is turned upside down? We can! We can because we have the one Word that is Peace.
This Gospel passage also has the story of the doubting Thomas. Various English translations of John 20:24 refer to Thomas as “Didymus” or the “Twin.” The Greek text has “Didymus” as a proper name, as if his name were Mr. Thomas Didymus. The word means “Twin.” Old legends and much speculation have it that Thomas was Jesus’ twin brother. However, there is absolutely no historical evidence of this.
What lurking storm fear,
keeping us cowered entombed.
Ah, but Peace untombed!