Most of us live in societies and neighborhoods where locking doors, both day and night, is considered necessary for our security. We have even added the peep-hole and the alarm system to our locked doors mentality for that extra sense of security. The main reason for securing our dwelling places is fear, fear of the intruder, fear of the other.
It was fear that compelled the disciples, in John’s resurrection story, to gather behind locked doors. We know whom they feared, but we do not know exactly why they feared. Perhaps the fear was real, perhaps it was more imagined. None of the other Gospels has this locked door scenario. It would appear that John’s account is building up the tension between the disciples and the religious authorities.
Then, in spite of their locked doors, Jesus came. Into the midst of their fears Jesus came. Jesus came and offered them peace. He assigned them the same mission that he had, breathed the Spirit of life into them, and spoke to them of the forgiveness of sins. Surely this was all enough to have them fired up and ready to go. Obviously, it wasn’t, for the Gospel story relates that one week later when Jesus visited again they were still behind locked doors. Again Jesus offered peace. He addressed Thomas’ need for physical evidence to allay his doubts. Perhaps, through Thomas, the lingering doubts of each of them were addressed.
The whole setting is helpful for all of us. We notice that Jesus did not chide the disciples for being behind locked doors on either occasion. Instead, he came and stood on their side of the door, and he brought them the gifts or tools for their release, peace, the Spirit, forgiveness, and a job to do.
We, too, have our locked doors behind which we hunker down. Sometimes, we may know who or what it is we fear, but we do not know exactly why. The fear may be real, or just a monster of our minds. Behind our locked doors we may feel secure from the people we don’t want to meet or the situations we don’t care to face. But, if we are people of faith we have to believe that Jesus actually stands on our side of the door offering the gifts for our release – peace, the Spirit, forgiveness and a job to do.
Jesus had prayed for forgiveness of those who had put him to death. He knew that the disciples must accept the Spirit, and forgive these same people whom they feared, and, indeed, themselves too. Only that would bring the peace and the courage to unlock the doors in order to go out and do the task that Jesus assigned.
Yes, if we are people of faith, we know that Jesus stands in our company on our side of the door offering the tools for our release. Only if we can accept them and use them, can we carry on his mission.
Elizabeth Ferguson, OP