My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
“Peace be with you”
Jesus’ Easter greeting to the fearful Apostles hiding behind locked doors in the Upper Room brought them joy. Showing them his pierced hands and side, He said again, “Peace be with you.”
By His repeated greeting, Jesus was wishing the Apostles and us peace for two reasons. He is, in essence, saying, by my death, I have conquered death. By my obedience, I have overcome sin. Be at peace, I have done it all for you. What wonders God’s love accomplished then, what wonderful news it is for each one of us now!
In this Year of Mercy, Holy Week and Easter show us mercy’s most perfect deed. The Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ are truly cause for both joy and peace.
Like the Apostles so long ago, we all have our fears to face and our regrets to bear. Remember Easter. Stunned by Jesus’ return from the grave, the Apostles rejoiced. But seeing his wounds, a momentary flicker of worry may have tempered their joy as they recalled that they had abandoned, betrayed and denied Him. Yet, mercy triumphed over justice. The Risen Lord offered them not condemnation but peace. And in order that God’s mercy might be conveyed through the ages, Jesus then breathed on the Apostles and instituted the Sacrament of Reconciliation saying “receive the Holy Spirit, whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, whose sins you retain are retained.”
In this year of Mercy Pope Francis urges us to “place the Sacrament of Reconciliation at the center once more in such a way that it will enable people to touch the grandeur of God’s mercy with their own hands. For every penitent, it will be a source of true interior peace.” (Misericordiae Vultus, 17)
May Christ’s Easter triumph over death give you joy and may you gain true inner peace by regularly availing yourself of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
With every prayerful best wish, I remain
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Robert J. McManus
Bishop of Worcester