22 April 2017


acts 2:42-47; 1 peter 1:3-9; john 20:19-31

after a lecture on mental health, karl menninger—the famous psychiatrist—answered audience questions.  one person asked: «what would you advise a person to do if he/she felt a nervous breakdown coming on?»
duh! the obvious answer: see a psychiatrist.
menninger caught everyone off guard with his response:  «lock up your house, go across the railway tracks, find someone in need, and do something to help that person.»

brilliant advice! and it applies to all sorts of breakdowns: when you have problems of your own, get out of yourself.
that’s what the risen jesus advises and commissions his disciples to do when he finds them «on the evening of that first day of the week» behind closed doors «for fear of the jews»! he sends them out… with the spirit to proclaim GOD’s love and forgiveness.
a week later, he finds them still behind closed doors. little wonder, then, that thomas refused to believe that jesus was risen. they were—in pope francis’ idiom—the first «christian bats»!
they eventually do go out of the closed room. the result? they «suffer through various trials» (second reading). They also experience fellowship—sharing of material resources and spiritual moments—and growth (first reading).

a natural reaction when we are afraid is to lock doors and focus inward. sometimes the «unnatural» works better!
moreover, our closed doors do not stop jesus; he comes to us in our fear, doubts, confusion… with his peace and with his spirit. further, he keeps returning week after week... in the word, in the bread and the wine. and he keeps sending us out of our closed rooms into a world that needs his gifts of life and peace.

what are the fears that keep me behind closed doors? what makes me a christian bat?
may i live in the awareness that jesus is always with me. may i get out, help those in need, and proclaim GOD’s love and forgiveness