Benedictine University and MySpiritualAdvisor.com’s Mark Kurowski reflects on truth apart from facts and reality and peace that surpasses understanding. Confused? These questions and more are answered in this audio. Please read John 20:19-31.

{mp3}B 31 2012 02 Easter{/mp3}

For Benedictine University and MySpiritualAdvisor.com, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 4/15/2012The 2nd Sunday of Easter.

Please pause this audio and read John 20:19-31.
    I noticed that Charles Manson was denied parole yesterday.  I owe at least a little something to Manson: it was because of him that I began to become an avid reader.
My feelings about Manson and his group who murdered people in 1969 and became the subject of the made for TV movie “Helter Skelter” are unambiguous: I have no automatic love for him and his deeds.  Although I must work myself into a basic love for humanity through Jesus Christ for this man, it is the movie that I would like to talk about.
    The movie “Helter Skelter” which documented the killing spree of Manson and his so called “Family” was iconic in my life.  When it came out, I probably should not have watched it.  I was 11 years old in 1976 when the movie came out.  When I watched it, it filled me with tremendous fear.  When the night came, I would lock all the doors, double check the windows and close my bedroom door, placing something in front of the door to at least slow down the killer I was sure was going to enter my room.
    Then, I would take a book that I had gotten from the library and get lost in the story.  It would not be unusual for me to wake up with the book in my bed somewhere and the light in my room still on.  I was terrified.
    It is this same terror that gripped the disciples in the upper room when Jesus appeared to them.  They were still afraid of the people among their own race that persecuted Jesus.  The people that they once embraced as their own, from that group, they feared for their lives.  How do we know?  We know because John tells us right off the bat,
On the evenging of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them…
    These were not just the Twelve Apostles in the upper room, because the Greek text uses the word for all the followers of Jesus.  Regardless, the embarrassment of following a dead political leader was only surpassed by the fear of being associated with what was thought to be a political movement.  They had left their jobs, some of them their families and the close family bond, their communities and had to sever countless other relationships.  The cost of discipleship was very high.
    Whenever I read this passage, I think of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman.  He was treated horribly by the Catholic clergy after he left the security and privilege of being a top cleric in the Church of England.  He was held in suspicion by Catholics and Protestants alike for his conversion.  He was a great man who followed his heart at great expense.
    The disciples were treated poorly by the “Chosen People” and Blessed John Henry Newman was treated poorly by “the Church.” In the midst of their troubles comes Jesus to say simply, “Peace to you,” in Greek or in English, “Peace be with you.” He breaths on them, the Spirit comes to them bringing the peace of God.  What is the peace of God?
    The peace of God is that peace that comes to us when we are troubled, worried and afraid of what life has thrown at us.  It is the assurance that comes when we realize and let God’s “other worldly-ness” engulf us.  When we allow our spirits to commune with Christ’s Spirit far away from the hard, cold, power hungry and calculating world, business, church, school or occupation.
    Working at a school that excels in science, I am reminded frequently by our science faculty that science does not deal in truth.  Science deals in facts and reality.  Truth is something entirely different.  Facts may show that coffee causes cancer in one study, and in another that it does not.  The reality of the control must be there so that the divergent data can be compared.  Truth, on the other hand, is beyond facts and reality.  There is something beyond us that we sense which gives meaning.  Truth, then gives meaning to these facts and their reality.
    Why is it that we are told that the doors are closed? We are told because even though the doors might keep evil out, they cannot keep out the peace of Christ.  Any door, a prison door, a metal door, even the closed and calcified doors of our hearts cannot keep out the peace of Christ.  It can come to us in the midst of our despair, loneliness or confused state.  It can come to us in the midst of our hiding from danger.  It can come to us when we walk in the doors of the Church and hear the priest or the pastor say, “Peace be with you.” We can sense it in the hug from a friend, the concerned gaze of a confidant, or in the gentle voice of someone who really loves us.  Most of all, it comes in the breaking and sharing of the bread, the body.
    The peace of Christ is beyond the facts and reality of physics.  No physical object, no rule of Newton can stop God.  No theory of just the right elements by Hawking can give us Truth.  God is Truth.  Christ is peace.
    The one who was born our birth, walked our walk, lived our life, suffered our sufferings, died our death is the only One who could give us peace.  It is only him who has defeated death, even death on a Cross.  It is Christ who comes from beyond our facts and reality to break down the doors to come into our lives and give us a Truth beyond this world.  It is Truth that recognizes that beyond our pain and disappointment, there is a heaven and earth with a Savior who takes us to the Father with him in the Spirit.
    After the long season of Lent, where we walk with Christ to his death, we now have an even longer season of Easter where we can embrace the peace of Christ in the midst of those who want to hurt us, scare us, intimidate us, use us, abuse us, and make us cower with fear.   We are the ones who know this peace because at the Easter Vigil we remembered our Baptism and were thankful.  We remembered that there were disciples who sat in an upper room afraid of life.  They were encountered by the risen Christ.  There was John Henry Newman who gave up his salary to follow Christ because he knew a certain peace beyond understanding.
    We know the one who has risen from the dead and we know when he says, “Peace” we have peace.  The question is, “Can we embrace the Peace?” Can we allow the peace of Christ to was over us and enliven us?
    So, in the midst of whatever load you are carrying and fear which clings to you like your skin, be it childhood memories that leave you fearful, people who used to love you and now hate you or a community that cannot trust you, I invite you to drop the load and embrace the Peace.  Embrace the Peace of Christ that is with you.  Amen?  Amen.

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