This passage for Divine Mercy Sunday from St John is a big one, not so much in length but in depth.
It details spiritual milestones – the descent of the Holy Spirit, the commissioning of the priesthood, the basis of the Sacrament of Penance, the teaching authority of the Church, the gift of faith, the sign of peace, and, most important of all, Jesus appearing to his disciples as the resurrected Christ.
But even with these incredible elements, all I could think about was a blaringly obvious and, perhaps, stupid question – how did Jesus get inside the room?
St John writes – “the doors were closed in the room … for fear of the Jews”.
The translation I have is ambiguous: “Jesus came and stood among them”. A quick Google search tells me St John originally wrote that the door was “locked” and it tells me I’m not the first to ask this question. It has a history.
So, was Jesus crouching down somewhere behind a box? Did he climb up the side of the wall into a window? Did he simply open the doors? The passage doesn’t have a clear or definitive answer on it. And I think that’s the way it’s meant to be.
Jesus’ disciples were cowering in fear from the Jews, who might find them and kill them too. Or who might drag them in the streets. The disciples must have also felt shame for what they allowed the Romans and the Jews to do to Jesus. Ashamed that their cause was dead, their leader was mocked and killed.
Jesus had every right to burst through those doors and tell them off for cowering like that after everything he had taught them. But he didn’t. God doesn’t do that. He simply appears, serenely, and says, “Peace be with you”. I can imagine him saying it softly. He understands. But most of all, he gets in there somehow. Even though they locked the doors, Jesus gets in. No door can stop him. A boulder in front of his tomb didn’t stop him, what could a door do? As we are commissioned this Easter to go out, I take courage knowing Jesus can get by any door, any barrier, anything. Nothing can stop him.
We approach Divine Mercy Sunday with a mystery of a locked door and the promise of his presence anyway. Alleluia.