Peace be with you.
We hear these words throughout Eastertide, the 50 days of the season of Easter that end in Pentecost.
We hear them because the disciples heard those words from Jesus. To their ears, those words must have given the same relief as “I forgive you” or “Don’t worry, I still love you.” We often hear that Easter is about the once-and-for-all forgiveness of sins, but I wonder…if that were the case, why would encounters with the resurrected Jesus so often begin with words of comfort and reassurance, of forgiveness? Wouldn’t the disciples be worried that, in fact, they weren’t forgiven for their utter failure, their fears, their denials, fleeing from the scene, hiding behind locked doors, which is, in fact, where they hear the words, “Peace”?
I thought about that as I spent the week with my family, participating in all the familiar dynamics and roles that my family and I have lived these many, many, years, the behaviors that come back so naturally to me when I am with my brothers and my parents. We get along, and we annoy each other, and we fight, and we love each other. As I navigated the most polished and well-practiced relationships I have, I thought about how very important it is to have the little words of peace spoken and spoken often. We all may agree in the abstract that we are family, but we practice and perfect being family by doing and saying it in countless small ways through the minutes, hours, and days of our time together. A family tree is one thing; living life as family is another.
Was the incarnation completely over when Jesus shocked the disciples by appearing behind a closed door and Thomas touched Jesus’ side and palms? I will leave that question to theologians—but Word made Flesh, dwelling with us as us, showing, not telling the way to live into the relationships that God craves for us—continued after Good Friday and Easter Sunday.