Today’s Gospel story begins with a couple of the disciples telling the rest of their friends all about their encounter with Jesus moments before, and how they recognized him in the breaking of the bread. When I consider how this scene may have played out, I imagine that the energy among the group feels flurried, everyone experiencing emotions of both confusion and amazement.
Then Jesus appears to them again, and the very first words he speaks to the bewildered group are consoling words: “Peace be with you.” I imagine now, the disciples frozen in their tracks, mouths gaping open, thinking they have just seen a ghost. We see Jesus allay those thoughts as he invites his disciples to touch his flesh and see his wounds, perhaps helping them to pause and realize what is true and real in the midst of their uncertainty. Jesus reveals to them that he is not a figment of their imagination, nor is he a ghost. He is flesh and bone, transformed, and standing before them.
Given our current circumstances, we may feel as though we are going through an emotional rollercoaster like the disciples. I imagine Jesus saying to us, “Peace be with you.” Like the disciples, that feeling of peace may not be felt suddenly or sink in right away. Still, I hear the invitation to find our ground in what we know to be true and open ourselves to experiencing the risen Jesus in our midst.
Encounters with the Risen Christ can transform us. After his offering of peace, Jesus reminds his disciples that something new and powerful is happening and that they are very much a part of it. We then see Peter share this message with the crowds in the first reading, reiterating that they too are witnesses to God’s work in the world in a very personal way. And still today, we stand witness to God’s labor of love and grace unfolding in our own lives.
Take a moment and reflect: Where have you encountered God, perhaps in surprising and unexpected ways? When has God been present to you? How did those moments make a difference in your life? Stay with these memories and remember what that feels like in your heart, mind, and body.
May we, together, lean into trusting that God continues to meet us right where we are, inviting us to open our hearts, to encounter Jesus anew, and to be transformed by the peace that God offers every one of us.