Dear brothers and sisters in Christ.
today is the first Sunday following Easter and our risen Saviour is giving us a word of hope and encouragement in the midst of our troubles, confusions and frustrations, that may come our way, especially during this Covid-19 Pandemic.
The verses of our reflection are taken from the Gospel according to Saint Luke 24:36-39:
While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”
This passage comes immediately after two disciples had encountered Jesus on the road to Emmaus and then had run back to Jerusalem to report to the disciples there what had happened. They were gathered in an upper room, the doors locked, confused, frustrated and trying to give sense to the unbelievable accounts from those who professed to having seen Jesus. First Peter and John, then the women and now these two from Emmaus said he was alive. Then, in their midst, Jesus appears and speaks to them. And what is the first thing he says? “Peace be with you.” He knew it was what they needed most – peace to calm the fear, the confusion, and the frustration, peace to enable them to focus on the reality that Jesus was alive and with them. Jesus gave them assurance. “Touch me and see that I am real”, he said.
While our situation is different, our emotions are the same – isolated because of corona virus, locked in our houses, fearful for the future and how long this will last, confused and frustrated because nothing like this has ever happened before. We are asking ourselves, what does the future hold? Life is becoming more difficult for people who are not able to work outside their homes and many must depend on assistance from the government or the church. We have to keep distance from one another, even when we see each other on the street, in those few times that we are outside our homes. The sense of community is challenged and being a part of the body of Christ is difficult to define when we are separated as we are.
In the midst of our situation Jesus still speaks: “Peace be with you.” He offers us his peace and the assurance that he is present with us. We may not be able to physically touch him, but he touches our spirits; he speaks to our hearts. He is present with us just as he was with the disciples. He is not a ghost or a mirage. He is as real for us as he was for the disciples. He offers us peace and his presence in the midst of all the confusing situations of life, especially this virus that we cannot see, but must avoid.
We must look to the future with the hope of Christ, who is victorious over all circumstances. We need to remain patient, for however long this isolation is drawn out. It is for our good and the protection of others. And, above all, we must stay connected in prayer, connected to Christ and to one another. As we pray for each other, Christ binds us to himself and to each other, regardless of distance.
God of Peace, you are with us as you promised, but we confess that sometimes we lose sight of you because of our fears, our frustrations, and our confusion. Speak to our hearts that we may hear your clear and calming voice amid of the clamor of our situation. Give us your peace, please. Amen.
Your sister in Christ
Rev. Albertine Nyiraneza
President of Gitarama Presbytery
of the Presbyterian Church in Rwanda