During the season of Eastertide, we see God’s plan for humanity revealed in its entirety. We have walked with Jesus and listened to his message for us, his desire to bring us into his family. We bore witness to Christ’s ultimate sacrifice on the Cross so that we might be rescued from death. Jesus calls us, his family, to share in the great reward that he won for us, Jesus’ love for us is so great that he returned to us early on the third day and immediately goes about ministering the graces he has won for all those who follow him.
We see this in how Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene outside of the tomb on the morning of the first day of the week. Jesus also ministered to the two disciples who were walking on their way to Emmaus and again Jesus appeared to Peter and then to the 11. When Jesus appeared, we hear his words “Peace be with you”, the first words from his lips are a gift to us. Jesus offered a gift to the Apostles and Disciples that only God could give, a great gift won for them on the Cross, a gift that can sometimes be overlooked because of the many other great wonders being worked by the risen Christ. This peace is a gift of himself to us, something that we can hold onto until we meet Christ face to face. It is a foretaste of the life to come, it is a spiritual advance of our heavenly reward. This is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit given to the followers of Jesus in every generation.
The invitation to receive this gift occurs often throughout the accounts of Christ’s appearances after the resurrection. It is also a gift that is offered to us from Baptism and frequently thereafter as we continue to grow in the spiritual life. This gift of peace is offered to us anew each time we come to participate in the celebration of the Eucharist. Just after the Eucharistic Prayer but before we receive communion, we hear the words “the Peace of the Lord be with you always,” This is a gift directly from God, offered in the same way as it was offered to the Apostles when Christ appeared to them. This gift of Peace from our Eucharistic Lord is bestowed to help and reassure us in this life, it confirms to us the love that God has for us. It is a small foretaste of the great freedom certainty that comes from our union with Christ, it is a gift of reassurance, a confirmation of God’s love for us and a support given to us at every stage of our life. It is a foretaste of what life with Christ will be like in eternity, it is a foretaste of Heaven, where all things will come to their completion in Christ, and where we will share in every great gift that Christ won for us on the Cross.
Fr Tony King-Archer