Devestated by Jesus’ execution, the disciples sought refuge in a house they knew. They’re again together, but now Jesus isn’t with them. In the community there’s an empty spot no one can fill. Jesus is gone. They can’t hear his words full of fire. They can’t see him blessing tenderly the unfortunate. Who will they follow now?
It’s getting dark in Jerusalem and also in their hearts. No one can console them in their grief. Little by little fear is taking over them all, but they don’t have Jesus to strengthen their spirits. The only thing that gives a sense of safety is «the locked doors». No one now thinks of going out on the roads to announce God’s reign and to heal lives. Without Jesus, how are they going to spread his Good News?
John the Evangelist superbly describes the transformation that occurs in the disciples when Jesus, full of life, makes himself present in their midst. The Risen One is once again in the center of their community. That’s how it should be forever. With him everything is possible: being freed from fear, opening the doors and getting started on evangelizing.
According to the story, the first thing Jesus instills in his community is his peace. No reproach for having abandoned him, no complaint or reproof. Only peace and joy. The disciples feel his creative encouragement. All starts anew. Pushed by his Spirit, they will keep collaborating throughout the centuries on the same saving project that the Father has entrusted to Jesus.
What is needed today in the Church aren’t just religious reforms and calls to communion. We need to experience in our communities a «new beginning» starting with the living presence of Jesus in our midst. Only he must occupy the center of the Church. Only he can drive communion forward. Only he can renew our hearts.
Our efforts and works aren’t enough. It’s Jesus who can unleash the change of perspective, the freeing from fear and suspicions, the new climate of peace and serenity that we so need in order to open up doors and be capable of sharing the Gospel with the men and women of our time.
But we need to learn to welcome with faith his presence in our midst. When Jesus returns to present himself eight days later, the narrator tells us that the doors were still locked. It’s not just Thomas who needs to learn to believe confidently in the Risen One. The rest of the disciples also need to keep overcoming little by little the doubts and fears which still make them live with doors closed to evangelization.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf