Monday, April 12, 2021

Second Sunday in Easter - John 20:19-31

The apostles were anxious and worried gathered in that locked room. In the last three days, their whole world had been turned upside down. The one they gave up everything to follow, the one they had hung all their hopes on, had just been brutally killed. They thought Jesus was invincible – after all the miracles they had witnessed. Now he was dead, and they were scared that they were next. 

Earlier in the day, they heard from the women that Jesus’ grave was empty. Peter and John ran to the tomb to see for themselves, and it was empty. Later that day, Mary Magdalene told them she saw an angel, and then she said she saw Jesus, who looked like a gardener. Can you imagine their state of mind?

Suddenly Jesus was standing there with them. You must believe that what he says to them in that moment is important. It’s the first message to them after his resurrection. And what he says is something we all need to hear. He said: “Peace be with you.” Be at peace.

 All of us have just come out of a year of stress and worry. We have faced an illness that has killed - I read today - 3 million people. We are living in a country where our political parties barely talk to each other. Most of us never dreamed of the kind of homelessness we see in our major cities. A policeman is being tried for the death of a man, and race relations are at a breaking point. Many of us are nearly as frazzled as the apostles that night. And Jesus says to each of us today … be at peace … it’s going to be alright. 

How do we find that peacefulness Jesus is offering?

In his gospels we read each week, Jesus tells us how to find this peace.  He told us first of all what peace is not. He said, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.  Not as the world gives do I give to you.” John 14:27 ESV  We won’t find – true peace in our lives from the things this world tells us will make us happy. We don’t get peace from the things of this world, even when things seem to be going our way; when our bank account is full, our job is going well, our investments are all increasing, our kids are brilliant and well mannered. That’s all delightful, but it isn't the peace Jesus offers.      

That night he showed them his scars his wounds. He opened his hands, and pointed to his feet, and pulled up his tunic so they could see his side. He kept these marks in his resurrected body, almost like badges of honor. In doing that, he dignified all of our wounds.  His wounds proved that God could take what is broken in our lives and turn it into our moment of triumph. We all have wounds; it’s part of life. And Jesus shows us that we, too, can use our wounds to help others. If we let God use them, our life experiences are the mysterious and perfect preparation for how we can serve. 

I've seen addicts reaching out to other addicts through twelve-step ministries. We have a bereavement ministry where widows and widowers use their wounds to help others dealing with the loss of a loved one. I have seen many veterans struggling with the horrors of post-traumatic stress disorder sharing with other vets how to heal.

Life with God isn’t immunity from difficulties; God can give us peace and purpose within our challenges. By trusting in him and offering our experiences to Him, we find peace. One of my wife Linda’s favorite sayings is: "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning how to dance in the rain."

Real peace, the kind Jesus gives, has roots much deeper inside us. It's the peace that comes into our hearts when we say to the Lord: “I give my life to you, all of it, all of my experiences for you to use. I know you can be trusted, so I put my trust in you.” 

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus asks us: “Are you weary carrying a heavy burden? Come to me. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis.” Matthew 11:28 TPT Giving ourselves into His hands does not guarantee good luck or immunize us from trouble.  But it changes everything. It changes the way we experience whatever life brings. When we turn it over to God, it takes away fear and lets us relax in His loving arms. He is just waiting patiently to fill up our empty spirits. Trusting God sets us free from the doubts and fears that steal the joy that belongs to every day. When we trust him, it frees us from our doubts and fears that stop us from giving ourselves to one another as we would like and as we should. Real peace comes to those who trust the Lord enough to walk with him in good times and in bad. 

Jesus spoke about us that night with his Apostles. He said: Blessed – blessed is just another word for happy - happy are those who have not seen and have believed. That’s us he is speaking about on the day of His resurrection. We were on His heart and mind that night, telling us that we will find happiness if we believe in Him.  

Jesus entered a place dominated by fear and flooded it with peace! 

He can break down the doors that we hide behind and offer us peace.

Monday, April 5, 2021

To those who doubt the Lord’s love or understanding of our trials, Christ’s wounds speak tenderly and clearly of His love and of the price He was willing to pay. His wounds are more eloquent testimony than any words could be. Is God merciful? Does God understand or care at all about our condition? Look to the wounds of Christ; dwell in them. Take shelter in the wounds of Christ.

He loves you so much he accepted these wounds so you may live forever! 

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Saturday, April 3, 2021

"The good news of Easter is that Jesus has triumphed over sin and evil — and so will we if we open our hearts to his Easter power.

The good news of Easter is that every Good Friday in our lives can be turned into an Easter Sunday.

The good news of Easter is that nothing can defeat us anymore — not pain, not sorrow, not even death.

The good news of Easter is that Jesus will work a miracle in our lives on this very day if we will but open our hearts to his Easter power.

What miracle might I ask Jesus to work in my life this Easter day?

How might I open my heart, in a special Easter way, to let the risen Jesus do this?”

Mark Link, S. J.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Spend some quite time today, building up a mental picture of Christ on the cross. 
Once you have built up this mental picture, ask why this is taking place. 
He is doing this for us
He didn't have to; he chose to. We matter that much to him. 
Anyone who suffers low-esteem needs to take this insight to heart.  
You matter to the greatest one of all!  

He was wounded for us.
Each of those wounds is a token of the loving care of a compassionate God. 
Can you see how this should change the way we think about ourselves? 
We are of such importance to him that he chose to undertake that suffering, pain, and agony. 
Form a mental picture of those wounds. 
Cherish them.  
It is by them that we are healed.  
Each of them affirms the amazing love of God for us.  
Each nail hammered into the body of the savior of the world shouts out these words - 

"He loves us!"  

How can we doubt someone who gave everything for us?

Alister Edgar McGrath is a Northern Irish theologian.