Last week we celebrated the greatest of Christian feasts, the resurrection of Christ from the dead, and we are well into 50 days of celebrating this joyful event. Alleluias ring out in the liturgy and in every song, expressing the joy of God’s victory over sin and death.
Unfortunately for me, in the midst of all this joy I don’t feel very joyful. Close friends are in the hospital or are dying. I’ve attended a record number of funerals in the last month. Work is tense; things in my family and my parish are tense. Life is full of worries and I struggle to wrap my heart around the alleluias we proclaim.
I’m starting to make some sense of this as I read the stories of Jesus’s appearances to his followers after his resurrection. He has two messages to all whom he meets: “Peace be with you” and “Do not be afraid.”
One of my favorite Scripture verses promises peace that surpasses all understanding. It’s perfect for me because I often lack understanding and I’m so grateful that God’s peace does not depend on my ability to reason things out. When Jesus offered his disciples his peace, they were in the midst of terrible turmoil. Their lives had been ripped apart, and peace was not on the list of expected responses. Yet Jesus promised them peace.
I certainly would have had the same reaction of the disciples following the crucifixion. They were afraid and concerned for their lives. Now they were confronted with someone they knew had died and were told not to be afraid. It’s really a pretty extraordinary expectation.
For those disciples and for me, it’s all about Jesus. Life is full of difficulties, but Jesus brings peace and banishes fear. It has nothing to do with our emotional responses. It has everything to do with a faith-filled response to the reality of Jesus’s triumph over death and sin and every problem that confronts us. That victory is just as real today as it was when the risen Jesus promised peace. That’s why in the middle of many concerns, I am able to sing “Alleluia!” with faith and peace.