On the following Sunday after Easter, the gospel reading is always the story of Thomas. If you have been reading my blog for the nearly six years that I have been writing from my heart and soul, you know that the story of poor old Doubting Thomas is my favorite of all gospel stories. I have always stated that the reason it is my favorite story is because after Thomas puts his fingers into Jesus’s nail wounds and his hand into his side, and finally believes, Jesus tells him blessed are those who have not seen and have believed. Like me.
And that’s still true. I love that Jesus talks about little ol’ me to his friends.
But this Sunday, something else in John’s gospel story caught my attention.
John tell us that Jesus entered the locked room (something Hercule Poirot would love) where the apostles are all gathered, except for Thomas, who must have had an appointment with his proctologist or something. John tell us that Jesus said, “Peace be with you.”
Did you get that? He doesn’t say Ta da! or Hey guys, I’ll bet I was the LAST person you expected to see, or You really should get that lock looked at, or Why are you so surprised? Weren’t you guys listening to me for the past three years?
Nope. He says, “Peace be with you.” In fact, when he returns a week later to placate our doubting friend Thomas, those are his first words again: “Peace be with you.”
Jesus’s greeting struck me because it seems of late that I am anything but peaceful. In fact, I’m almost always worrying about something or other. Bill’s Parkinson’s. My stomach issues. My friend’s cancer. Money. My family’s health. My grandkids’ school life. Climate change. Our kids’ jobs. Terrorism. I even worry about how worrying might be affecting my health.
But Jesus wanted his friends to know that there was (and is) no need to worry. He wants there to be nothing but peace in our lives. Peace be with you, he said to them, and to us.
My niece Maggie recently sent me a link to a series of sermons given by a minister at the church they attend. The series was entitled simply Peace. She sent it to me because she knows that I worry so much that I worry that I worry too much. In other words, she loves me.
The minister’s words really hit home. Honestly, he didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know. But for some reason, I have been fairly successful at putting his suggestions into practice. At least for now.
It’s simple. Worries fall into two categories: things I can do something about, and things that are out of my control. When it comes to things over which I have control, instead of worrying, put solutions into practice: write lists, enlist help, bite the bullet and do it, and so forth. On the other hand, it is absolutely a waste of time to spend even one minutes worrying about something over which I have no control. Those are the things we give away to God. Or to the universe. Or to whomever or whatever you believe.
That’s a good first step for finding the peace that Jesus wants us to embrace.
Peace be with you all!