What’s Your Name?

July 18th, 2019

Thursday of the 15th Week in Ordinary Times

Ex 3: 13-20; Mt 11:28-30

Deacon Larry Brockman

So, does your name tell who you really are?    It seems different today than it was in the past, doesn’t it?  Because today, our last name identifies our family; and our first name usually refers to a name that is popular, or maybe a name from a close relative- a Grandma or Grandpa or Aunt or Uncle.   

It didn’t use to be that way.  Millers were millers, Smiths were Blacksmiths; and in my case, my family were the people that lived by the brook.

And in the ancient world things were different too.  The ancients valued their name because it told who they really were.  Moses wanted to know what this mysterious God’s name was because he knew that the name would transmit the essential information about who God really was.   

And God tells him very simply: “I am who am”.  So simple, and yet so packed with meaning.  God’s name implies that he is and always has been and always will be.  God describes himself as one who existed always- before anyone or anything else.  He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  He doesn’t say he was the God of those patriarchs; rather, he is still their God.  And that says a lot too.   

I don’t know about you, but when I think about God as having created everything, the universe and any companion universes; and everything and everyone that has ever lived; and that he relates continually to everyone and everything at the same time; well, that puts me in an awesome fear of God.  He is so mighty and eternal; and our abilities are so limited in time, space, and capacity.  It is truly humbling to think of ourselves in the face of God, no matter how gifted we might be in the eyes of the world.  We are nothing compared to our God.   

Now God speaks to Moses about how he heard their cries for help and was answering them.  And the whole Exodus story is an awesome example of how this transcendent, almighty God acted in their behalf.  He saved the Israelis from the Egyptians with mighty works.  So, God intervened out of love for his people.  But still, the God of the Old Testament seemed remote and above us all.  His love was mysterious and veiled.   

Today’s Gospel is short and sweet.  Jesus, who is also God- the second person of the Blessed Trinity- says this to us: “Come to me all you who are burdened, and I will give you rest.” 

We have travelled through the Liturgical year.  Jesus came, lived, preached, suffered, died, was resurrected from the dead, and returned to the Father.  So, our God deigned to send his Son to be one of us- He became present to us in ways that we could all understand.  The Incarnation provides us with an alternate picture of God from the almighty, totally transcendent God of the Old Testament.  As Jesus says himself, “for I am meek and humble of heart.”  Yes, God is almighty and above everything and anything we can understand.  But He is also meek and humble of heart.  In the face of almighty God, that is what each of us is called to be as well- meek and humble of heart.   

You see, we have a brother, the Son of God who became like us in every way except for sin so that we could put aside the fear of the almighty.  Jesus gave us the example of his own life so we could see how we could become close to Him.  We do that by following the example of Jesus in the Gospel.   

And just what is that.?  Well Jesus became who God wanted him to be.  Jesus sought the will of God for Him and lived that life. That is what we are all called to do as well- to be the person God calls us to be.  We are called to be:  Mothers, fathers, priests, nuns, caregivers, providers, defenders of the faith, artisans, scholars, athletes and many other things. 

We are each gifted with missions and talents tailored just for us but to give glory to our creator.  That is who we are; and that will be our name forever. 

What’s This Site All About

June 30th, 2019

Welcome to Deacon Larry’s Homily Website.  Deacon Larry Brockman’s  home parish is Holy Family Catholic Church in Orlando, Florida.  This site contains all of Deacon Larry’s Homilies organized by date.  There are three major categories- Holy Family Sunday Homilies; Holy Family Daily Homilies; and Westminster Tower Homilies.  You are welcome to read and download any homily.  Comments are also welcome. God Bless!

This site has been up for a couple of years now, and I see that there are a number of subscribers.  However, nobody ever comments on these homilies.  Please, I do welcome your comments.  They would help me to be more relevant to user needs!

Points of No Return

June 30th, 2019

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

1 Kgs 19: 16b, 19-21; Gal 5: 1, 13-18; Lk 9: 51-62

Deacon Larry Brockman

A point of no return.  That’s what Jesus is talking about.   

We saw it demonstrated in our first reading about Elijah and Elisha.  Elisha was chosen by the Lord to replace Elijah.  He had a choice- to follow or not.  But if he followed, he would pass beyond a point of no return.  Because once we find God’s will for us, there is no going back and forth from our calling to our former way of life.  God wants us to make a commitment and follow his will for us without reservation.   

Each of us goes through an initial stage in life when life is all about us.  It is natural and a consequence of our human nature.  And during our lives, we go through transitions that lead us to a more and more mature state.  First, we are infants, then toddlers, then children, then young adults.  And at each stage in our development, we learn to move beyond the earlier stage and not look back.  Each such stage in life transitions us to less preoccupation with ourselves, and more interaction with either the world around us or the people around us or both.   

Then, most of us fall in love and marry someone special- someone that we accept just the way they are.  We are willing to sacrifice ourselves at the expense of our loved one.  We are in love with them.   

And because we are made in the image and likeness of God, that love propagates itself in the children we bear which is like the Spirit of God that reaches out and extends beyond God to touch others.  

And so, we transition to yet another stage- the parenting stage in which our love extends not just to our parents and spouse but now to children and eventually grandchildren.  And as we transition, there is no looking back. We are on a continual progression of growth that moves us beyond.   We cannot afford to look back; we need to move forward.   

Well in parallel with these human growth stages, we also experience spiritual growth as well.  Initially our experiences are limited to this world.  But God touches each of us continually with His Spirit.  We become more and more aware of the beauty that has been forged by our creator.  And we consider the limits of worldly existence.  All of us come to the conclusion that we will die some day.  All of our ancestors have, and we are no different.   

And so, we seek the ultimate purpose in life.  Is there an author to life?  What is my relationship with Him?  Will I live beyond this life, and in what way?  Many of us seek more and more knowledge about God.  Hopefully, we progress beyond knowledge about God and begin to feel God’s presence in our lives.   

As we develop that relationship with our creator, we are moved by His Spirit.  And that Spirit moves us to seek and find God’s will for us.  Most of us discover that we are already in the middle of God’s plan for us because we have been blessed with our spouse; with certain talents, with certain limitations, and with certain desires.  These things are all well and good.    But then, and at varying times in our lives, we sense that God has something special in mind for us.  We are called by him for something out of the ordinary for us.  We are called to put aside the goals that we have for ourselves, and endeavor to help others.  For most of is, it is not a life changing call; for others it is.   

But whenever we follow that call- to be there for a friend in need; to care for a sick loved one; to teach Sunday School; to volunteer in some capacity; to visit the sick or the interned; or to do something truly extraordinary as Mother Theresa was called to do, we cannot look back.  We need to look forward and focus on God’s nudge lest we derail ourselves. 

That’s what Elijah did; whereas the man in the Gospel is holding back just a little.  We cannot hold back because life is full of points of no return.   

The ultimate point of no return is our death in this world.  For those who have not looked back; there will be a guaranteed place in the kingdom of God for them. 

Dealing With False Prophets (U)

June 26th, 2019

Wednesday of the 12th Week in Ordinary Time

Gen 15:1-12, 17-18; Mt 7: 15-20

Deacon Larry Brockman

I wonder whether we have false prophets in our day?  Jesus says they would come to us in sheep’s clothing, but underneath they would be ravenous wolves.  Prophets. you know, tell us what things will be like in the future.  They are either prophets of doom; or prophets of boon.  Most people like the second kind of prophet, don’t they?   

I don’t know about you, but a whole bunch of things leap out at me about prophets of boon.  How about the advertising industry for starters?  We are constantly bombarded with claims on products by advertisers all telling us how much better our lives would be if only we bought their products.  They are claims that are hard to believe; probably because they are not true, or at best, they are half true.  And underneath, we know that there is just one motive- money, not our welfare.  This includes ads for toothpaste, soda drinks, beer, chips, all kinds of foods and entertainment, and a whole lot more.  They are replete with promises, implied promises.  They use good looking women or guys with the whitest teeth, or having the best time at the party, or any number of other visual traps that sell us.  Everything looks so good on the surface.   

Most of us are not taken in by these kinds of false prophets.  Probably because all of us have bought these false narratives a time or two, and so, we learned from our mistakes.  We can tell what the real fruits of their efforts are.   

But there are other, much more serious false prophets who use the same techniques to sell something as good.  They are not selling products; they are selling visions as a means of gaining power.  I’m talking about politicians; politicians whose hidden agenda differs from what they are selling.  They couch what they say by making it all sound so good.  Free college education for everyone; free health care for everyone; a big increase in the minimum wage; a tax cut for everyone; eliminating stifling government regulations on business and the environment; and safeguarding the second amendment.   

But you have to wonder if they are sheep in wolves clothing.  Are they promising these agendas to gain and maintain power?   Or do they really have our best interests at stake?  Because each one of the 6 things I mentioned comes at a cost, doesn’t it?  And basically, the costs are not addressed by their promises; rather, the emphasis is on all the “good” that is promised.  Some things appear to be good on the surface, but when you look at them closer or over time they end up being very bad.  Unfortunately, consequences like this and real costs are ignored.   

But just like the products pushed by the advertising industry, we can often tell when we’ve been hoodwinked.  Because most of the time, politicians just don’t deliver on their promises.  And if they do, the consequences, come back to bite us.  So, we sometimes know what the fruit of their labors is.  The challenge is to find someone who delivers on their promises and handles the consequences.  We are looking for the truth; not propaganda.  And in our society, that is getting really difficult to find.   

Then there are the prophets of gloom.  They are like barking dogs, warning us about Global warming or complete financial collapse due to the national debt or and of a number of international threats and dangers.  It is harder to sort out the truth from these doomsayers because the issues are so complex.  And besides, it is human nature to want to hide from gloom and doom.  Old Testament Israel constantly ignored true prophets like that   

But you know, there is an oasis in all of this.  There is a place all of us can go to test everything and determine whether the prophets of gloom and the prophets of boon are bearing good fruit or bad fruit.  And that oasis is our relationship with God.  Abram’s story this morning is an example.  If we have a relationship with God; and we ask him sincerely what the right thing is to do; he will guide us; he will answer our prayers; and we can put our trust in him.  He may not explain it all in such a way that we fully understand everything, especially all the consequences.  More than likely, he will just point us in the right direction.  We will get the right feeling, a sort of common sense.   

Do we have false prophets in today’s world?  You bet; they are all around us, especially as we get close to an election year. 

Are You All Fired Up?

June 11th, 2019

Benediction

Col 3: 16

Dc. Larry Brockman

Well, are you all fired up!   

I see that most, if not all of you were there last week to hear Fr. Larry Richards rousing words of support for this Chapel.  And you folks that come to this Benediction regularly, you are certainly part of the core worshipers here.  So, how could you not be fired up after Fr. Richards talk.   

And what was so special about his talk?   Well, he preached to us about how we can make a difference.  He gave an example about how a group of devout people who come before the Blessed Sacrament in regular worship in his parish, all of whom shared a common goal- the closing of the Abortion clinic down the street from them- were successful.   

Well, I am here to tell you that we can do the same thing.  We can unite behind a common cause in our local community and together, our voices will be heard.   

How appropriate that is for this time of the Church Year.  After all, we just celebrated the beginning of the Church.  And our readings during the week chronicle how the Apostles responded to Jesus’ command to go out and preach to all nations.   

Today is the feast of St. Barnabas, who converted to the faith and helped St. Paul with his ministry to the Gentiles.  Things are not so different here from that first century because our country seems to be losing the faith.  Our Judeo-Christian roots have been greatly damaged by the prevailing Secular attitude in this country today.  But you, we, all of us here, can make a difference.  Because we believe, we truly believe that the prayers of a humble, contrite people who pray together for a common cause will be heard.  If only we are all fired up!   

So, let’s do it.   

A Little Love Goes A Long Way

May 29th, 2019

Wednesday of the Sixth Week of Easter

Acts 17: 25, 22B- 18:1; Jn 16:12-15

Deacon Larry Brockman

It was just too much for them, these Greeks.  As Paul addresses the Athenians, he talks to them about a different kind of God and it was just too much for them to take at one time.    First of all, it was so different.  These were educated people according to the Greek traditions.  They knew all about their gods; and they knew about other cultures and their gods.  They were tolerant of these other beliefs as the altar to the unknown god testified.  In a sense, they knew too much about these other belief systems.  Today, they would be called pluralists; those who believe that there is a little bit of truth in all faiths.  Such folks believe that God speaks in his own special way to all cultures and peoples.  So, there is value in listening to all and integrating everyone’s revelation.  Pluralists think it is arrogant for someone to proclaim that their religion has the answer.    

Paul’s words turned everything around on them.   Paul talked about how there was only one God, a God who was beyond all understanding; a God who made everything and everyone.  Such a God would supersede all these other religions that these folks studied.  They just didn’t want to hear that.   

Secondly, they did not have the proper disposition because their hearts were closed.  They were not capable of inspiration; not open to it.  The vanity of their educated status and their long line of traditions, made the idea of resurrection of the body absurd to them.  And so, they politely rejected Paul.  They told him “We should like to hear about this some other time”.  And so Paul left.   

We also live in a culture that thinks it has all the answers.  Our culture believes that mankind can control their own destiny.  Many teach that all creation can be explained without God; and that our science and technology has advanced to the point where we can forge our own destiny.  We can clone animals and people, they say.  We have genetically engineered this and that.  And they also scoff at the idea of an afterlife, especially a resurrected body.   

Now, the interesting thing is that the Christian message conquered the western world despite the arguments, smugness, and arrogance of the establishment of its time.  They conquered the world because of the love that the Christians displayed.  They conquered the world by speaking and living the truth.   

The tiny group of 12 men that gathered around Jesus and listened to the words Jesus spoke to them this morning in the Gospel changed the world forever.  Most of the 12, all but one, suffered martyrdom in the process.  But they had the peace that Jesus offered them in the process.  They had that peace because of the tremendous force that Jesus promises them this morning.  They had the energy, words, inspiration, and guidance of the Holy Spirit.  And so even when they were being persecuted, they were at peace with their God.   

This Easter, Father John gave each of us a little book to read.  I don’t know how many of you have read it, but the author, Matthew Kelly, makes a very strong point.  He advises all of us that we can respond to the Holy Spirit with Holy Moments.  We may not live holy moments all the time but we can be inspired to live holy moments at any time.  Our holy moments involve the inspiration we have to do something simple, yet extraordinary in our lives: to love unconditionally and unexpectedly for just a short period of time by helping a neighbor; doing something extra and unexpected.  And if we all live holy moments more often, that will make a difference.  Even the most arrogant and smug in society can be touched by the love of a holy moment just like they were 2000 years ago.   

So a good, sound, theological argument may fall on deaf ears, just as it did with the Athenians in Paul’s time.  It may be just too much all at one time for those who are disposed otherwise.  But a little love goes a long way. 

What Is Heaven Like?

May 26th, 2019

6th Sunday of Easter

Acts 15: 1-2, 22-29; Re 21: 10-14, 22-23; John 14: 23-29

Deacon Larry Brockman

Just what is heaven like?  Well, the Book of Revelation tells us something about that.  Amongst all the unfamiliar symbolism that John uses a good portion of the book of Revelation describes the indescribable transcendental state of heaven in the only words that John could muster that somehow did it justice.  Part of that description is in our second reading.   

I invite you to reflect for a moment without distraction on what we just heard.  First, John sees the holy city of Jerusalem, which descends down from heaven.  Later on John says that God will make his dwelling place with us, so the holy city of Jerusalem is our heaven.    Next, John says that the city gleams with the splendor of God.  He describes the splendor of that gleaming in terms of the reflection we see from a precious stone, like jasper; and he says that it is clear as crystal.  The glory of God is dazzling, sparkling, clear as crystal, and bright.  It will be captivating!   

Then, John describes four walls.  The walls are sturdy, built on stone foundations; and they are tall.  This means that heaven is protected; that it is isolated from darkness and outside influences; that it is impregnable.  There is no devil; there is no war or bickering; there is no pain, no deception, no misery in heaven; only peace, joy, and the glory of God.    

But the walls also mean that entry to heaven is limited.  One has to enter through one of the 12 gates guarded by angels, with 3 gates on each of the four sides.  John identifies the twelve tribes of Israel and the 12 Apostles with each of the gates, signifying that both the chosen people, Israel, and the converts of the New Testament may enter.  One has to be a believer and must have survived a period of trial and judgment.   

Next we find out there is no temple in this city, no church within it.  There is no need for a temple, because God himself is there.  And there is no need for the light of the moon or the sun or the stars because the glory of God illuminates the place.   

How do we get there, to heaven?  Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel that “Whoever loves me will keep my word and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him”.  That is how we get to heaven- by loving God and keeping His word.  For then God will come to us, like the holy city Jerusalem descending from heaven.

Jesus then goes on to offer us the help of the Holy Spirit in our crusade.  He calls the Holy Spirit the “Advocate”.  He says the Spirit will teach us everything we need to know.  Indeed, those who love God and sincerely desire to follow him will be moved by God’s advocate, the Spirit.  He will inspire us to know and serve God.   

Then Jesus offers us peace.  But it is not the peace of this world.  Rather, it is peace in the heart.  It is the kind of peace one has when they are totally reconciled with God- satisfied that they are doing the right thing, satisfied that they have resisted the temptations of self-gratification when they are called to serve; feeling in harmony with God’s will for them no matter what might be going on around them in a tumultuous world.  That is the kind of peace that Jesus wishes on us.  It is the kind of peace that circumstances and time cannot take away from us.   

Easter is still upon us.  We first experience the Easter joy of knowing that the resurrection is real; and that we have the opportunity to be resurrected just like Jesus.  In its wisdom, the Church uses the later part of the Easter season to describe the coming joy in the Kingdom of God.

We have all experienced just a little bit of that today   

An Amazing Transformation

May 2nd, 2019

Thursday of the Second Week of Easter

Acts 5: 27-33; Jn 3:31-36

Deacon Larry Brockman

What an amazing transformation!    The Apostles, who had been “huddled in the upper room for fear of the Jews”, were transformed by Jesus’ resurrection appearance and his gift of the Holy Spirit to them.  They would stand in the portico of the temple in full sight of the authorities who they had previously feared, and preach Christ crucified and resurrected.  That’s what we have been hearing day by day in this Easter season.   

This morning, our reading tells us that the court officers made them stand before the Sanhedrin, where they were reminded that they were given strict orders not to preach “in that name”.  And Peter boldly tells the Sanhedrin that: “We must obey God rather than men.”   

First, Jesus appears to the Apostles and tells them to be at peace; and he means internal peace, not peace in a secular or worldly sense.  Certainly Peter and the Apostles do not appear to be at peace in a worldly sense in this morning’s reading.  Here they are, hauled in front of the authorities they feared previously, and we are told that the authorities wanted to kill them.  That’s not the kind of peace the world gives.  But they were at peace in their hearts because they had found their calling; they had found their hearts; they were at peace with God.  They were responding to the call to go out and preach the Gospel to all nations.   

What do you suppose the message is for us?  Does this story just give us a glimpse of the authenticity of the Christian story?  Is that all we take away from it, and then go on with our daily lives?  Or is there a much more profound personal message?    

And then there is the Gospel today.  It is taken from the very beginning of St. John’s Gospel, Chapter 3.  Jesus is explaining his role.  He has come from heaven, from above, “to testify to what He has seen and heard” from God the Father.  He boldly claims that He has been sent from the Father and “speaks the words of God”.  And he tells everyone that “Whoever believes in the son has eternal life”.   

His next sentence is very interesting because he says “whoever disobeys the son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains in him.”  That means that our belief is proven by our obedience.  We are required to be obedient to God’s call to us.   

Jesus post-Resurrection message to the Apostles was meant to be a message to all of us, not just the Apostles.  We are called to believe and to go forth and testify to the truth.  That’s what the Easter season is all about.  We are not just called to hear the story.  We are called to believe the story, embrace the peace of God that protects us from fear of the secular world; and boldly spread the message of the Gospel to all nations.   

We can do that within the context of our daily lives from where we are planted by God.  Each of us was given life in the here and now- in this age, some 2000 years after the events of the Gospel.  But our mission is the same as that of the first Christians.  We are called to be fearless witnesses of everything we have heard about our Christian Faith.   

We don’t have to drop everything and dedicate every waking hour to preaching Christ.  Rather, we just have to preach Christ by our daily lives in the way we treat others we come in contact with; in the way we raise our families; in the example we show our children and coworkers; in the way we stand up to the evils of the secular world.   

Yes, it is Jesus hope that each year in the Easter season each of us will experience an amazing transition just like the Apostles did. 

Living in Harmony With God’s Call (U)

May 1st, 2019

St. Joseph the Worker (May 1, 2019)

Col 3: 14-15, 17, 23-24; Mt 13:54-58

Deacon Larry Brockman

No matter who you are, God has a plan especially for you.   God has gifted each you with the talents and personality that you have.  It is up to you to allow God’s spirit working within you to sense God’s plan for you and to use the gifts you have wisely.   

Of course, your parents and the environment you live in have a lot to do with it as well.  But God had a role to play in that too, didn’t he?  It was God’s will that you live right now- in this time and place.   

Jesus was like you and me in every way in his humanity.  It was God’s will that Jesus be born in the time and place that he was.  And it was God’s will that Jesus grow up in a humble environment as the son of a carpenter.  And yet, God also graced Jesus with special talents- the ability to know God the Father intimately; to discover who He was, the Son of God; and to embark on his 3 year Mission to preach about the Kingdom of God.   

And through the Spirit, Jesus was able to discern that things had to change; people had to change because the message that God had passed on to His people through Moses and the prophets had morphed.  Instead of loving God and neighbor with one’s whole heart, mind, and soul; the essence of being a Jew in Jesus’ time was adherence to the Mosaic law.  Jesus preached repentance, which is a change in lifestyle to correct for deficiencies; and Jesus preached following in his own way of life to be in harmony with God, even if it resulted in suffering and pain.  In Jesus’ case, it resulted in his death on the cross.  

St. Paul does a great job summarizing what Jesus was trying to teach the people in this morning’s first reading.  First and foremost, we must put on love.  And, we must seek out and act on the peace that God gives us.   

Sunday we learned Jesus’ greeting to the Apostles was “Peace be with you” in each of the post-Resurrection appearances.  And that “peace” is the internal peace that comes with being in a right relationship with God.  When your life is in harmony with God’s will, you are at peace internally no matter what is going on around you in the world.  Such peace requires us to be strong; to be resolute; and to accept the realities of conflict in the world.  It seems so ironic; but someone who is suffering from terrible persecution can have the internal peace of God although they are hardly at peace in the eyes of the secular world.   

And we are to act from the heart.  That means that whatever we do, we are motivated by the Spirit working deep within us such that we feel that it is the right thing to do.  Our motivation is not just to comply with the law; but rather to fulfill the deepest sentiments of our hearts. 

For example, we should go to Mass on Sundays not because we have to; but because we want to be with God and we seek the nourishment that are in both the Word of God and the Bread of Life.  

And lastly, we are to be slaves of Christ.  Yes, all of us are called to a servant role, to do God’s will.  For most of us, that means we are called to be servants to those who are in our families.  Serving the needs of our children and our spouses are our top priorities.   

When Jesus stood up in that local synagogue and taught the people, He was at peace with his Father, he was doing the will of His Father, and he was using the talents that God had given him, talents that were above and beyond those that he had learned in his trade as a carpenter.  Jesus spoke with authority, and his message was well structured and well thought out.  But most importantly, Jesus was fulfilling the will of His Father to preach repentance and about the coming Kingdom of God.  And Jesus was at peace when his own people rejected him.   

This morning, we are all called to reflect on how we are living our lives.  Are we in harmony with the will of God?  Are we using the personality and talents we have been given to be servants of God?  And are we at peace with all of that? 

Real Peace

April 29th, 2019

Divine Mercy Sunday

Acts 5: 12-16; Rev 1: 9-11a, 12-13, 17-19; John 20: 19-31

Deacon Larry Brockman

“Peace be with you”.  Those were the first words of Jesus to his Apostles in his post-Resurrection appearance to them.   

Think about that for just a minute.  Jesus had been arrested, tried, tortured, and executed by an angry mob of Jews who had been whipped into a frenzy by the Jewish leaders.  The disciples were in fear that they would be pursued as well because the body of Jesus was missing from the tomb and they were the likely suspects!  They were terrified that the authorities would come after them.  And so, they were huddled together hiding from the authorities in the upper room.   

Jesus packs a big message in those first simple words to the disciples.  He is telling them to relax, and not to worry; to be at peace even with all that was going on.  Why? Because here he is, alive and well in the resurrected state.  Such a thing had never happened in the history of the world, and it will never happen again.  But by seeing and believing in the power of that resurrection miracle, a power that transcends any earthly power, Jesus is telling his Apostles to trust in him because no matter what, they will be given peace, real peace.  It was essentially a call to courage   

Then in his next words, Jesus sends the Apostles forward on their historical mission to be his witnesses and to convert the world because Jesus vests them with the power to forgive sins or not forgive them. This power also transcends any earthly power, because it is the gate by which one transcends this life to everlasting life or death; heaven or hell.  And so, Jesus is commanding his Apostles to go forth and exercise that power; to preach the Gospel.  This was going to take some courage, real courage.   

The first reading tells us that the Apostles were up to that challenge!  They were gathered in the Solomon’s Portico in clear view of the authorities.  Acts tells us very plainly that “None of the other’s dared join them”.  Indeed, the Apostles had been changed by Jesus visit and the gift of the Holy Spirit. They were fired up; ready to go; they believed with all their hearts; they had real Faith; they were courageous.  But the others were still afraid.  You can’t really blame them, after all, the Romans and the Jews were incredibly brutal to Jesus. 

They were afraid because of a lack of Faith.  They are like us- we have not seen; we are called to believe without seeing.   

And so, we have the story of Thomas.  Thomas actually put his fingers into Jesus’ wound.  After that Thomas says “My Lord and my God”.  Can you just imagine as a human being realizing that you are standing in front of God himself!  That realization flipped Thomas to a firm believer, a man of Faith.  But Jesus words to Thomas echo across thousands of years: “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed”.  And that is what all of us are called to do.  We are all called to believe in the whole story of Christianity without having been there; without having seen first-hand. We are called to faith.  And not only that, we are called to have courage and to be at peace no matter what is going on around us.  That’s the essence of Jesus command “Peace be with you”.   

So, when you are attacked for your Faith; when someone ridicules you for following the Gospel by keeping the commandments and faithfully worshipping God; and when you suffer the consequences of your own personal “crosses to bear”- like illnesses, losses, infirmities, loneliness, and every other painful state we find ourselves in-that it is all worth it, because if you believe, really believe, then the Peace of God rests on you.  And that peace of God rests in his promise to save all those who believe in him, such that they will all inherit the Kingdom.