April 15, 2012


The doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews. – John 20: 19

   Fear is a terrible thing. We all have our fears. In spite of being incessantly distracted by a frivolous, profit-driven media that squeezes every last drop out of the latest celebrity scandal du jour, We fear the real growing threat of terrorism, Iran’s potential for nuclear warfare, the seduction of our children, the vulgarity of civil discourse. We fear increasing taxes, identity theft, unsafe streets, loss of health & income, aging, dying. And we fear matters of the heart.

   A man named Janez Rus feared punishment for his wartime activity in support of the Nazis. He was a young shoemaker when he went into hiding at his sister’s farmhouse in June 1945. He was found 32 years later. He said he used to cry when he heard happy voices outside. He didn’t even dare go to his own mother’s funeral. Throughout those years he never left the house, a victim of his own fears.

   It is also possible to fear God’s love & all its demands. A famous therapist named Rollo May, recovering from a nervous breakdown, went, even though he was a non-believer, to visit Mt. Athos, a peninsula of Greece inhabited exclusively by monks. He happened to arrive when the monks were celebrating the Greek Orthodox Easter. The ceremony was thick with symbolism, thick with beauty. Icons were everywhere. Incense hung in the air. At the height of that service, the priest gave everyone present three Easter eggs, wonderfully decorated & wrapped in a veil. “Christos Anesti!” he said, “Christ is risen!” And the people, including non-believer Rollo May, responded, “He is indeed.” May writes, “I was seized then by a moment of spiritual reality: What would it mean for our world if He had truly risen? We too fear it might be true & what would that demand of us?

   We fear intimacy, & we fear betrayal & being made of fool of, of not fitting, or society’s worst sin: we fear not feeling good about oneself, looking good. And so in many ways we withdraw, take no risks, & hide behind the closed doors of our own making, pretending to be cool, sophisticated, life of the party.  But it’s all a façade. We’re afraid. As Bette Midler sang in the movie, The Rose, “It’s the heart afraid of breaking that never learns to dance / It’s the dream afraid of waking that never takes a chance.”

   Fear. We are looking for someone to walk through the doors we’ve closed & call us out of our fears, someone who understands because they’ve been there. What’s the Gospel point of all this? The disciples were like Janez Rus: hiding in fear behind locked doors, disfigured with their own betrayals & cowardice. Now notice, Jesus appears in their midst with His wounds! Jesus feels that if He can appear before them disfigured, they will let Him back into their disfigured lives.

   Are we getting the message? When it hurts too much to hope, when life has wounded us, when faith is exhausted, know that the risen Jesus with disfiguring wounds is waiting to get into our disfigured & fearful lives & call us out of our fears.

   Jesus got His wounds on Good Friday so that, now being like us, we might let Him in on Easter Day. He’s willing to come through the doors we’ve used to shut Him out, letting us know He understands where we’re coming from & that He can give us peace & wholeness,

  So even if you can’t or don’t feel like praying, go apart & simply repeat the last three words of the Bible, “Come, Lord Jesus!” Give your wounds to the wounded Lord.  AMEN!