Pentecost: John 20:19-23
Fear. Isn't it a nasty word? We can be afraid of many things, from noises in the night to our own physical death. There are many things in the world that can harm us and those we love. Sometimes, we are so cautious that we do nothing at all.
In our Gospel reading this weekend, Jesus' disciples are locked in a room for fear of the Jews. The danger was real. The Jews could easily kill them as they killed Jesus. Jesus had ascended to the Father and they weren't sure where to turn or what to do. There is strength in numbers so they stayed together when all of a sudden Jesus stood in their midst. They were filled with the Holy Spirit and there was no more room for fear. They could leave that room and continue Jesus' work. It wasn't that the danger was gone but there were things more important to accomplish than to huddle together in fear.
Barriers fell and they began to treat those who had earlier seemed so different from them, as sisters and brothers. They came to see that they were all part of the same body, the Body of Christ. Each one had a part to play. There was no need to compete, simply to offer what they had and to benefit from the gifts shared by others. They were filled with Christ's peace and the goodwill that energized them. They had so much to share and the barriers that separated them from others were gone. They were sent to do the Father's work.
We, too, are sent. Sometimes, fear can hold us back from becoming what we could be or sharing the gifts God has blessed us with. Sometimes, the differences we perceive in others can stop us from getting to know them. Sometimes, our hardness of heart and anger can take from us the peace God wants us to have. We are called to open our hands and our hearts and receive those same gifts God gave Jesus' disciples. We are called to do the Father's work.
This week, we can take a look at our fears and pray for the willingness to let go of them and to let God fill that place within us with God's peace and strength. We can consider those we see as different from ourselves and try to hear them speak our language. We can invite the Lord into areas of our hardened heart and anger that we might be filled with the peace God wants us to have. That should be plenty for us to do.