Another thing on the list of bizarre things for us Catholics during this whole crazy time we’re living with (on a pretty lengthy list already) is at the sign of peace. After hearing the words that Jesus offers in today’s Gospel “Peace be with you” – we’re used to the invitation “let us offer each other the sign of peace.” Not saying it – (almost slipping and saying it myself) is weird – like something is missing. (I keep thinking of The Big Bang Theory with Sheldon being so OCD that he has to knock and say “Penny” three times or he freaks out like he has an itch on his brain… it’s kind of like that. Maybe I have a bit of OCD)
While the gesture that we usually offer one another at that point of Mass is beautiful and something we expect, maybe we can use the awkwardness of it’s absence. Use the reality of something missing to reflect on what’s not. What it is we’re saying…What it is we’re hearing.
In the Gospel, Jesus wasn’t just looking to come up with a greeting and sounding like the original hippie. When He first did this, He was speaking into the doubts, the fears of everyone who found themselves in the Upper Room who had just experienced the brutality of Good Friday and now had news on the complete opposite end of the spectrum of Jesus being risen from the dead. Luke described those in that room as “terrified.” So as Jesus enters, and says “Peace” He’s telling his beloved disciples who are still in the world – that He has overcome the world – He’s telling those who still live with the fear, the terror of death – that He has been victorious over death. As they welcome Him into that locked room – as they open the doors of their hearts which has been locked by terror and fear they too can begin to experience the freedom, the new life, the true and lasting peace Jesus offers.
We might not be able to offer a sign of peace right now, but fortunately, Jesus is not limited to social distancing mandates… He comes to us in the locked houses and rooms we find ourselves in… He sees the fear and terror. He knows the challenges and difficulties. He comes not offering empty words or a trite greeting – but a true, abiding gift… in the midst of all that we find ourselves in, He comes to us. He offers us His peace. May we be willing to truly accept it.