In the midst of the great big crisis we are living through, it isn’t necessarily the great big things we do that will ultimately make the biggest difference.
As the apostles huddled together in hiding while Jesus died on Calvary, their world probably felt like it was falling apart in a very big way. The One who Peter had proclaimed as the Son of the living God, the Master who had healed, taught, even raised Lazarus from the dead…their friend…was gone…and the authorities could be coming for them next.
They probably felt that now they had only each other, and after their less-than-spectacular display of loyalty to Jesus when he needed them most, that probably didn’t seem to be very much.
Did you ever wonder what they talked about as the hours dragged slowly by after Jesus’ death? Did they talk angrily about Judas who had betrayed their Master for thirty pieces of silver? Did they recall memories of Jesus from happier times? Did they try to figure out what to do?
We have only the Scriptures to guide us in understanding what happened after the most terrible betrayals in human history, that of Judas and that of Peter.
Jesus appeared in their midst on the evening of his resurrection and greeted them with the words, “Peace be with you!” And then he said, “As the Father has sent me forth, so I am sending you” (see Jn 20:19ff).
Some days later he met them on the seashore after a difficult night fishing during which they had caught nothing—until he told them to again cast their nets. Then, as the fish was frying, he asked Peter, “Do you love me?” (see Jn. 21:15ff.)
Sometimes the little things can most powerfully change a situation in crisis.
After his resurrection, Jesus used little things like conversations, assurance, and meals to teach the apostles to focus on him. Jesus personally sought them out to reassure them of his goodwill toward them. He made it clear he still had a mission for the world: they were still part of that mission, and they needed to let go of everything inside of them that held them bound to the past.
It is conceivable the apostles could have had angry words for Judas, and Peter, for each other, the leaders of the Jews, and Pontius Pilate. However, they didn’t remain there. Jesus invited them to the courage of a single-hearted life lived for him alone and for the sake of others. He showed them how to move through the crisis.
So as we struggle through the present crisis, we might find ourselves, like the apostles, wanting to hide and avoid confronting the crucifying realities of what is happening.
Let us guide our lives by these four resurrection lessons learned by the apostles from Jesus himself:
- The angels told the women who came to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus, “Go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you” (see Mark 16:7). Galilee is where they had first left everything to follow Jesus. He took them back to a place where they had experienced his love and his peace. So bring to your mind and heart a time when you have felt God’s presence and his love, a time before all this scandal. It could be a place, a retreat, a book, music, a place of prayer that was meaningful, a memory. You will find him there again, waiting for you. As you remember Jesus’ presence to you there, notice what it is like for you. What did you receive from him there?
- Jesus came to his apostles in a very traumatic time for them and said, “Peace!” And Jesus will come to you with the same words with which he greeted them: “Peace be with you!” Jesus knows that we can hear him more easily when we are in an interior state of peace. So now you must let go of anything that disturbs your peace: following ongoing revelations on social media, news, and YouTube videos; provocative conversations that disturb your faith; anything that doesn’t constructively contribute to the strengthening of courage and hope. Let it go in order to fill yourself with the fragrance of Jesus.
- After he was betrayed by his followers into the hands of those who killed him, Jesus asked the simple question, “Do you love me?” This is the question Jesus is asking each of us right now. The amazing thing is that when we answer this question, our hearts are enkindled with courage and sweetened with consolation.
- On the shore of Lake Tiberias, Peter professed his love for Jesus to the extent he could at that time, and Jesus accepted Peter where he was. Our love and our commitment grows over time. Then Jesus told Peter he was to strengthen his brothers. Each of us right now is being told the same thing. After we reconnect to an original experience of love and union with Jesus, and fill ourselves with the peace that only the face of the Lord can give us, we each need to strengthen those around us. We cannot wait for anyone else to do this for us. God will put in your path those whose faith is like a wilting flower. They will be buoyed up by your quiet peace, your courage, and the determined faith that comes from seeing the work of God even in the midst of the darkness.
Jesus often said it was the leaven in the dough, the mustard seed of faith, the one coin that the woman put in the basket that was more than enough to accomplish what he would send us to do. Pray for that small coin and the tiniest seed of faith and it will be given you.
For if we focus on Jesus, the little we have to offer is more than enough.
Sr Barbara Gerace, FSP, Jeannette de Beauvoir, and Sr Kathryn Hermes, FSP contributed to this article.