Growing up, living and constantly exposed to violence and death has an effect on the mind, the body and the soul. Think today of abused children, the families caught in war zones, the refugees, the Christian martyrs of Syria, for example. Executions, be they barbaric, ritualized or behind closed doors - whether they be rubber stamped by the halls of justice or carried out in a back alley, they corrode the beauty and dignity of at least two people - the one we presume innocent, and the one we presume guilty.
It is into this culture of death, our Lord steps. He does so with a new body of evidence that can finally bring an end to conflicts, violence, wars and needless deaths. This body of evidence he brings is his own body - his resurrected body, a transformed body. He is not a ghost of a past memory when all was peaceful and pleasant. Nor is he a dreamt up image of wishful thinking. He gives his disciples solid food evidence that who they see before them is real, not a vision, or apparition nor the mind playing games. Christ stands before them as God’s plan of victory for every conflict resolution not only throughout the world, but first within our lives (cf. “beginning in Jerusalem”)
Standing before his disciples, our Lord now reaches into their troubled and wounded minds, with divine and brotherly compassion and gentleness. And deeper still, to touch His disciples in the depth of their lives, the Prince of Peace bestows upon them the gift of peace, a profound peace, a peace that this world can not give.
This gift of peace, given to the Church by our Lord is not simply for us to be strengthened and secured in our faith. We are duty bound to offer this gift of peace to the world, a world that still picks at its own wounds and often resists the gentle grace of God at work in so many unassuming ways. How?
Let us ask for the prayers of our mother Mary. She witnessed, yes, the barbarity of her son’s violent death. But she witnessed the repentance of the good thief and Christ’s appeal to his heavenly Father for the forgiveness of those who crucified him. We must allow her openness to the grace of God’s words and her obedience to God’s commandments (cf. Second Reading), not simply to inspire us, but embolden us to continue and accomplish Christ’s vocation - reconciling the world to His heavenly Father. His work is never done. As His witnesses, neither is ours!