15 April 2007. 2nd Sunday of Easter
John 20, 19-31 In Acceptance Lies Peace
When Jesus comes to our life, His arrival is experienced as peace. Peace is what Jesus gives. Peace is what we receive when our faith is deep and complete. Our heart rests peacefully despite the many trials that disturb our lives.
When grief comes to our lives, it disturbs us. That is precisely what Thomas went through. Thomas expected death. In fact, when Jesus proposed to go to Bethany, two miles from Jerusalem, he reacted “Let us all go, that we may die with him” (Jn 11:16). But Thomas was a natural pessimist. He undoubtedly loved Jesus very much that he was willing to go to Jerusalem and die with him. And when what he expected happened, when Jesus whom he loved died on the cross, he was grief-stricken, broken-hearted, and in despair. And, like some of us, Thomas had to face his grief and despair alone. Thus, when Jesus appeared at the Upper Room, he was not there. Thomas was absent. So when the disciples told him, he did not believe unless he could see with his own eyes the print of the nails, and stretch his hands and put it at his wounded side.
This is understandable. When we are so caught up by our grief, we, like Thomas, begin to doubt, to despair and to become disheartened. Not that we lack courage. Not that we have not loved enough. Not that we are unwilling to do the task. Maybe, we are just too wounded, that is why we doubt. When we are in pain, we sometimes ask, “Where is God?” And so Jesus appears to Thomas and identifies himself by his very wounds: Look at my wounds. Put your hands into my side. I am He! To answer Thomas’ question, Jesus showed them His wounds.
Our very wounds, our very despair, our very grief forms us into who and what we are. The many failures in life can make a person courageous and strong; while in another can make him negative and pessimistic. Numerous heartaches a person encounters might make a person calloused and unable to love; or make a person mature in the experience of loving. Who we are now tells us how we have reacted or responded to many of life’s difficulties.
When Thomas places his hands into the wounds of Jesus, and accepts what had happened, that Thomas confesses, what scholars regard as the summary of the four Gospels, “My Lord and my God!” Our God does not remove pain, He becomes wounded with us. Our God does not take away our problems, He accompanies us. Thus, it is in acceptance that many of our heartaches turn into peace. When we have accepted the eventually of our sickness and death, we begin to be at peace. When we are able to accept the situation of our families, we begin to be at peace. When we are able to accept our limitations and weakness, we are at peace.
There is a poem by Amy Carmichael in her book, “Toward Jerusalem” that tells us exactly what we are saying. Let me end with this poem. It is called, “In Acceptance Lieth Peace.”
He said, I will forget the dying faces;
The emply places,
They shall be filled again.
O voices moaning deep within me, cease.”
But vain the word; vain, vain:
Not in forgetting lieth peace.
He said, “I will crowd action upon action,
The strife of faction
Shall stir me and sustain;
O tears that drown the fire of manhood cease.”
But vain the word; vain, vain:
Not in endeavor lieth peace.
He said, “I will withdraw me and be quiet,
Why meddle in life’s riot?
Shut be my door to pain.
Desire, thou dost befool me, thou shalt cease.”
But vaid the word: vain, vain:”
Not in aloofness lieth peace.
He said, “I will submit; I am defeated.
God hath depleted
My life of its rich gain.
O futile murmurings, why will ye not cease?”
But vain the word; vain, vain:”
Not in submission lieth peace.
He said, “I will accept the breaking sorrow
Which God to-morrow
Will to His Son explain.”
Then did the turmoil deep within him cease.
Not vain the word, not vain;
For in acceptance lieth peace.
*UP-ICTUS members after their annual retreat in Tagaytay. More pictures of them at http://jboygonzalessj.multiply.com. They said that they found acceptance in ICTUS.