Resurrection Joy & Peace
Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.”John 20:19
Two major gifts our Lord meant to grant us by the Resurrection are joy and peace. But sadly, on this feast day and on many of the following holy fifty days, many of us are not at peace. We may have gone to church and celebrated while inside its doors, but we still have the concerns of the world hanging over our heads. The worries of the soul are not yet dissipated by the Resurrection joy. It is a sad irony: the Church rejoices with exultant hymns and festivity, while we remain “down” on the inside. Even if we managed to taste a little of the glory of the Resurrection Liturgy, by evening the next day the subtle unrest of the heart sets in once again. And we can acutely feel the sting of the knowledge that on the next day, Monday, we will once again be thrown into the strains and struggles of daily life. We mournfully say goodbye to the unique happiness of Pascha week, and the especially exciting hours stretching from Friday morning to Sunday morning—to enter once again the feastless humdrum of our studies and our jobs. Yet Christ proves to us that the power of His Resurrection overcomes this; it can reach into the most shadowy corners of human hearts to enlighten them and bring us renewed joy and peace. On the morning of the Resurrection, the disciples were hiding in a small room, scared and confused, with the doors shut tight—and Christ appears and declares to them, “Peace be with you.” His Resurrected body is what made it possible to enter the locked room and restore to them their peace. For many of us, our hearts are still closed shut; it has become very difficult to let in any bit of peace or joy. But if we ask Him, earnestly, He will enter even this heart—which is seemingly closed off to every other comfort in the world. The Alexandrian scholar Origen once wrote: “We ourselves hold the view that our human nature is in no way sufficient to seek after God and find him clearly without the help of the One whom we seek. God is found by those who—after doing all that is within their power—confess that they are in need of Him. God makes Himself known…” Christ is risen! We will begin to understand the depth and beauty of this declaration when we can say it with positive joy—something like the joy that is manifested in any church after the Resurrection Liturgy has just ended. “Christos Anesti” rings with musical quality as we greet one another, and there is something in the air at that moment that is indeed quite special. We must fervently ask God for grace if this joy is to remain with us throughout the holy fifty days. Your final exams do not have to be an insurmountable obstacle to this joy, and neither does the stress of your job. From the beginning our Lord knew that His people would always be celebrating the Resurrection in a world that still required their work the next day and that continued to give them trouble. But here is a small miracle wrought by the Resurrection: Our Lord takes our daily spiritual motivation from “death” to “life,” and transforms our daily thoughts and emotions from a state of limbo to a state of vibrant joy.
When he had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. John 20:20.