Cycle B Divine Mercy Sunday

Acts 4:32-35; 1 John 5:1-6; John 20:19-31

On that first day of the week, fear gripped the hearts of the disciples as they locked themselves away from the world. But in their darkest hour, Jesus appeared among them, offering peace in the midst of their fear.

Throughout the Old Testament, we find instances where God's people faced fear and uncertainty, yet God always provided peace and deliverance. One such example is found in the book of Exodus when the Israelites were trapped between the Red Sea and Pharaoh's advancing army. In Exodus 14:13-14, Moses reassures the people, saying, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today." And indeed, the Lord parted the Red Sea, leading His people to safety.

Another powerful example is seen in the life of King David. In Psalm 23, David speaks of finding peace even in the midst of great adversity, saying, "Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me." David's trust in God's

presence and protection sustained him through every trial.

In the immediate aftermath of Jesus' resurrection, the disciples were filled with fear and confusion. They had witnessed the crucifixion and burial of their beloved Teacher, and now, His empty tomb and appearances left them bewildered and afraid.

In John 20:19, we read, "On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them." Even in the presence of the resurrected Christ, the disciples' fear remained palpable.

Like the disciples, we too may find ourselves grappling with fear in the face of uncertainty and the unknown. Yet, it is precisely in these moments that Jesus invites us to trust in Him and His promises.

Despite their fear, Jesus repeatedly reassured His disciples of His presence and peace. In John 20:21, He says to them, "Peace be with you. "

in spite of all the fears there was joy in the lives of his followers.  When people have said their “No,” God says, “Yes.” At Golgotha, people did their best to say “No” to God. But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, God said “Yes”! Nobody expected that.

Pilate said “No” in his hall of judgment, hastily washing his hands. The Roman army said “No” with the public execution. Custom said “No” with its borrowed grave, sealed with a huge stone rolled in front of it. The women came to the grave, but their word was a sad “No” because they came only to embalm the body. Peter and John later ran back to the tomb, but that was because earlier they had gone away, given up, withdrawn, said “No” with their feelings.

Two on the Emmaus road had said “no” and left town, the garden, the grave. They had hoped Jesus was the one but they left town with a disappointed “No” on their lips.

In the upper room, the rest of the group gathered, hiding out in fear and grief. Jesus was gone; they would be next. Theirs was a terrified “No.” Unanimously — among friend and foe alike — the word of the hour was “No.”

This “yes” of God made all the difference in history. As the disciples encountered the risen Christ and experienced His transforming power, their fear gradually gave way to faith. Acts 4:31 beautifully captures this transformation: "And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness."

The Tale of the Peaceful Lake depicts this situation very well.  Once upon a time, nestled in a serene valley, there lay a tranquil lake surrounded by lush greenery and towering mountains. This lake was known far and wide for its unparalleled beauty and the sense of peace it bestowed upon all who visited its shores.

One day, a mighty storm swept through the valley, with thunder roaring and lightning flashing across the sky. The winds howled fiercely, whipping up the waters of the lake into a tumultuous frenzy. Waves crashed against the rocks, and chaos reigned supreme.

In the midst of the storm, a small boat struggled to stay afloat. Its occupants, a weary traveler and his faithful companion, clung desperately to each other as the tempest raged around them. Fear gripped their hearts as they battled against the raging waters.

Just when it seemed that all hope was lost, a sudden calm descended upon the lake. The storm clouds parted, and a gentle breeze swept across the water, carrying with it a sense of peace and tranquility. The once turbulent waves now lapped softly against the boat, and the sky above was clear and serene.

As the traveler and his companion gazed in wonder at the miraculous transformation, a voice spoke to them from the shore. It was an old sage, wise and venerable, who had witnessed the entire ordeal.

With a warm smile, the sage beckoned them to come ashore. "Fear not, my friends," he said, "for peace has returned to the lake, as it always does after the storm. Just as the waters were once troubled, so too were your hearts. But remember, peace resides within you, waiting to be discovered amidst life's storms."

The traveler and his companion listened intently to the sage's words, their hearts filled with gratitude and awe. In that moment, they realized that true peace could not be found in the absence of storms, but rather, in the presence of a steadfast calm that dwelled deep within.

And so, as they continued on their journey, they carried with them the memory of the peaceful lake and the sage's timeless wisdom. Whenever they faced challenges or hardships along the way, they would close their eyes and breathe deeply, invoking the spirit of peace that had enveloped them on that fateful day.

For they knew that no matter how fierce the storms of life may rage, the peace that surpasses all understanding would always be with them, guiding them safely through the darkest of nights and into the light of a new day.

My dear friends, the message is clear: no matter the circumstances we face, God offers us His peace. Just as Jesus appeared to the disciples in their moment of fear, He stands ready to enter into our lives and bring us peace that surpasses all understanding. Like the disciples, we may lock ourselves away, but we cannot lock out the presence of our Savior.

Consider the timeless tale of Daniel in the lion's den. Despite facing the threat of death, Daniel remained steadfast in his faith. In Daniel 6:22, we read of how God sent His angel to shut the mouths of the lions, preserving Daniel's life. Just as Daniel found peace in the lion's den, so too can we find peace in the midst of our own trials when we trust in God's faithfulness.

Jesus' words, "Peace be with you," are not just a greeting but a promise of His presence and power in our lives. And as He showed the disciples His hands and side, bearing the scars of His sacrifice, He reminds us that true peace is found in His redemptive love.

And so, dear friends, may we too find solace in the midst of life's storms.