The community of believers was one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. With great power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all.
There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them to the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need.(P) The word of the Lord.
Let the house of Israel say, "His mercy endures forever." Let the house of Aaron say, "His mercy endures forever." Let those who fear the Lord say, "His mercy endures forever." (R)
I was hard pressed and was falling, but the Lord helped me. My strength and my courage is the Lord, and has been my savior. The joyful shout of victory in the tents of the just. (R)
The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. By the Lord has this been done; it is wonderful in our eyes. This is the day the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it. (R)
Beloved: Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God, and everyone who loves the Father loves also the one begotten by Him. In this way we know that we love the children of God when we love God and obey His commandments.
For the love of God is this, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome, for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world. And the victory that conquers the world is our faith. Who indeed is the victor over the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
This is the one who came through water and blood, Jesus Christ, not by water alone, but by water and blood. The Spirit is the one that testifies, and the Spirit is truth.(P) The word of the Lord.
On the evening of the first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you." When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained."
Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe."
Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe."
Thomas answered and said to him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed."
Now, Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.(P) The Gospel of the Lord.
Once, a troubled young man went to a monastery and asked an old wise monk what he must do to attain inner peace. The monk said to him, "The way to attain inner peace is to finish all the things you've started." The young man, after thanking the monk for his advice, returned home and looked around the house to see all the things he had started but had not finished yet. And, in the evening before going to bed he finished off a half bottle of wine, a half bottle of whisky, vodka, etc. Well, that's one way to have some sleep and quiet. But our Lord Jesus attained abundant, perfect and everlasting peace by accomplishing the work He had started - the work God had commissioned Him which ended in his sacrificial death on the cross.
All the four gospels and the Acts of the Apostles record a series of post-resurrection appearances of Jesus Christ. Some appearances were to individuals and others to groups of people; some outdoors and some indoors; some in the morning and some in the evening; and some at different times of day. All in all, the New Testament records eleven appearances of our risen Lord. Today's Gospel recounts two such instances - one on the evening of the first day of the week or Easter Day and the other a week later, John (20:19-33). Both times, Jesus appeared as the disciples were together for the fear of the Jews, with the doors locked in the upper room of the house in which Jesus had shared the Last Supper with them.
Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them. He did not have to knock. He did not even have to open the door. He simply was there. He was not a ghost but the same physical body which was crucified, dead, buried and came back to life. To prove that He was a living person, Jesus invited the disciples to touch his hands and feet on the very marks of his crucifixion. And to calm their fears, to give them the strength and courage to face up to the challenges they would experience, Jesus gave them two special gifts:
Shalom Aleichem which means "peace to you", is a conventional Jewish greeting, and Jesus used the same to His disciples who were hiding in fear and mourning after His crucifixion and death. Even though it was a normal greeting, it carried to the disciples a much deeper meaning than it did among others. I am sure they remembered the earlier days in the upper room when Jesus promised them peace that is substantially different from the peace the world offers, John (14:27).
The world commonly understands "peace" as the absence of hostility and retribution; conflict of war; and it tries to secure peace through its worldly ways - i.e. through physical strength, economic power and military force. But Jesus has another way of bringing peace - i.e., through love, gentleness, forgiveness, and reconciliation. So, the resurrected Christ's greeting to His disciples Shalom Aleichem meant far more than the absence of trouble or danger. He gave them a peace that would overcome their troubled hearts and their fears. It was an assurance of God's presence in their lives, wherever they go.
The disciples rejoiced, because they found immense peace in just knowing, deep within their hearts, that Jesus was alive again and everything was going to be okay, and that Jesus was offering them peace which He accomplished when He died for them on the cross. In other words, the Lord Jesus made His disciples secure peace on all fronts.
First, it was their peace with their Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. Jesus' greeting assured them that He was still their friend; He was not angry with them for their betrayal, denial and abandonment, and that they were totally forgiven. Secondly, it was their peace with God. Jesus' message of peace reminded them that He has reconciled them and others with God who is angry with them, and that their friendship is restored by His death, Romans (5:1). Thirdly, it was their peace with others in Christ. Jesus bestowed peace on the disciples and wanted them not to bear any grudge against others in the group, such as, those who had betrayed, denied and abandoned Him but love and work alongside one another despite their differences, so that the gospel could be preached in His name to the ends of the earth. Fourthly, it was their peace with themselves. Jesus offered His peace and hoped His disciples to forgive themselves for the failures and humanness, and to find peace.
Lastly, it was their peace with the world. Christ's gift of peace meant that they would have to make peace with the "enemies" of Jesus. His enemies were not only those who condemned and crucified Him but also those who would be against them in their work for the gospel of Christ. Before His death, Jesus had already foreseen a crisis in the lives of His disciples and told them to do three things for their enemies: forgive them, love them and pray for them, John (16:33); Matthew (5:44); Luke (6:35). Thus, Jesus' greeting of peace meant Peace with Jesus; Peace with God the Father; Peace with others in Christ; Peace with themselves and Peace with the world. It was an amazing gift.
Along with the peace, Jesus filled His disciples with the same power that He was filled with, the power of the Holy Spirit, the power from on High, Luke (4:1). He gave them the Spirit because they were being sent into the world as His representatives and ambassadors just as God the Father had sent Him; so to make their preaching more effective and fruitful in the face of increasing opposition, persecution, apathy, and indifference, and to do things that they would simply not be able to do on their own, such as, healing the sick, delivering people from evil spirits and forgiving sins. On the whole, the anxious disciples were given peace and power the way Jesus had so that they could glorify God, John (12:27-28).
What is the message for us?
Fear is a normal human reaction or natural feeling that alerts us to the presence of danger or arises in response to the unknown. We all feel it. We fear equally the known and the unknown; the real and the imaginary. As we grow, we all move through many fears - such as, the fear of strangers, places, activities; the fear of failure in an examination, of being attacked by an enemy, of remaining unemployed, of losing a job, of being criticized or rejected, of being forgotten, ignored, or abandoned; the fear of facing a reaction or backlash for correcting others, of being killed in an accident; the fear of flying, of contracting a dreadful sicknesses such as AIDS, cancer and heart attack; the fear of being left alone in old age, of an unknown future, of an untimely or unprepared death, etc.
But the problem is that when fear dominates our life, it adversely affects our interactions and relationships and causes tremendous anxiety. The extent to which we allow fear to rule our lives is truly amazing. Studies indicate that about 90% of all our fears are imaginary, meaning that we feel scared or worried even if there is no real threatening situation in the environment which could cause such fears.
We all could be just like the disciples who still had fears, even knowing that Jesus had risen from the dead. Are you facing any fears, anxieties and worries for now? If you do, seek the Lord Jesus Christ. He can enter and penetrate deep into our lives at all circumstances, anywhere and anytime. He can go where no one else can go. He can go where no counsellor or doctor can go.
Today, let us surrender all our fears to Him and pray that He may give us strong, bold and courageous hearts when fear comes near; we may trust and have confidence in Him when we are afraid, Joshua (1:9); Psalm (56:3). His peace which surpasses all understanding may guard our hearts and minds and supersede all fear, Philippians (4:6-7). He may give us the same peace He offered to the disciples - Peace with Jesus; Peace with God the Father; Peace with others in Christ; Peace with ourselves and Peace with the world - and He may give us the power of the Holy Spirit to do the kinds of things that we simply are not able to do on our own.(P) Amen.
God Bless You!