By Fr. Terry Kerner

"Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, 'Peace be with you.'" Three times in today's Gospel, Jesus speaks these words to his disciples. He knew they were in need of peace! Following the Crucifixion, they had huddled in fear, hiding behind locked doors, "for fear of the Jews." But the risen Christ burst into this prison of anxiety to set the disciples free.

We may wonder why, after his first greeting of peace, Jesus immediately showed the disciples the wounds of his crucifixion, still present in his now glorified body. Why would he speak of peace and then show them the scars from the violence of the cross? Perhaps it is because those wounds earned our forgiveness. And this forgiveness is our peace.

Although we may not suffer from the fear of martyrdom as these first disciples did, we all need the peace that comes from being forgiven, and from forgiving. Our sins enslave us by preventing us from experiencing the fullness of life. But Jesus' mercy is greater than our sins. He wants to forgive us. And, as he taught us, we are supposed to "forgive those who trespass against us" as well. Perhaps we harbor grudges towards neighbors or family members who have hurt us. We are called to extend forgiveness to them, just as Christ extends forgiveness to us. In this way, we can cooperate with Christ by spreading peace to others. "As the Father has sent me, so I send you," he told the disciples gathered in the room. We too are sent to be messengers of Christ's peace and mercy.

Especially today, on this Sunday of Divine Mercy, may we accept from Jesus his promise of forgiveness. Then, we will truly be able to "go in peace."

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