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Blog: April 11, 2021

Fr. Jeff and others share reflections on the Sunday readings.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

“Jesus came and stood in their midst

and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’”

Imagine, if you will, a Robin who has painstakingly built her nest in the fork of a limb twenty feet high in a Maple tree near the shore of a Kentucky lake. She has meticulously assembled twigs with mud to create a six inch wide by six inch deep cup and lined it with dry grasses. She settles in to cover the pale blue eggs with with her orange feathers to keep them warm and looks out on a soft Kentucky morning. The sky glows with the rising sun and the air is quiet and still, thick with humidity. A light fog hovers over the glass surface of the lake. She closes her eyes and is at peace. Later, an afternoon storm rolls in. The Maple tree sways with the fierce wind as the clouds rumble with thunder. Lightning cracks across the sky as sheets of rain shatter the surface of the lake with millions of tiny explosions. The Robin remains in her nest covering her eggs. She closes her eyes and is at peace. 

The peace that Jesus brings isn’t circumstantial. He doesn’t eliminate the storms. In fact, for the disciples locked in that room out of fear, the circumstances that they face don’t change at all. Except for one. Jesus is alive. Love has conquered death. The threats, however, are still real and many of them will die a martyrs death. In a few short decades, the Temple and city of Jerusalem will be destroyed by the Romans and the church will be scattered. Jesus’s gift of peace doesn’t promise that everything will work out fine. It won’t, but it will be well. You may be familiar with the hymn It Is Well With My Soul. The original first verse and refrain go like this:

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll;

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know

It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, (it is well),

With my soul, (with my soul)

It is well, it is well, with my soul.

This could seem like a pollyannaish notion unless you know the circumstances of the composer, Horatio Spafford. In 1871, his four-year-old son died and he lost most of his real estate investments in the Great Chicago Fire. Having been a successful lawyer, his economic stability was further decimated in an economic downturn in 1873. That same year, still dealing with the aftermath of the fire, he made a late change of plans for a family trip to England. He sent his wife and four daughters ahead of him on the SS Ville du Havre, which rapidly sank after a collision with the Loch Earn. All his daughters perished, prompting a two word telegram from his wife, “Saved alone...” On the trip to grieve with his wife, he penned this hymn. It was from the midst of the storm that these words were written. 

The peace of Christ “surpasses all understanding.” When Jesus entered that locked room, one greater than the Temple was there. When the storms of life ravage, Jesus is in our boat. When we are at deaths door, Jesus opens it from the other side to embrace us with his love. Whatever the circumstance, we can close our eyes and look inward to see the face of God and be at peace. It is God’s peace. We are not alone. Love has conquered death. Jesus is alive and it is well.