Do you know the film “Of Gods and Men”? It is a powerful and thought provoking film based on the true story of a group of French Cistercian monks living in Algeria in the 1990s, whose lives became endangered when a civil war broke out. One early scene showed them gathered around the table, discussing their current situation. They were fearful and troubled, and considered leaving the monastery. The story progressed, and later on we see a similar scene with the monks around the table. This time however, instead of fear and the doubt, their faces reflected peace, joy, determination and certainty. The eight men unanimously decided to stay, despite a recent incident where their compound was attacked and a real threat was made on their lives. They had given their lives to Christ for this mission, and if this meant giving their lives literally, then they will embrace this possibility. They did not flee nor retaliate, but chose to stand firm and continued loving and serving the people in their village.
What happened between that first and second meeting is nothing short of an Easter experience, just like with the disciples in today’s Gospel. The disciples, too, were meeting behind locked doors, afraid of those who had the power to arrest and kill them – but Jesus “came and stood among them, said ‘Peace be with you’, showed them his hands and his side… and “the disciples were filled with joy” (Jn 20:19-20). I find it interesting that Jesus showed them his wounds – he did not simply brush aside all that he experienced or hid it. Rather, this encounter with the crucified yet risen Christ transformed the disciples and made them unafraid of pain, suffering or even death itself It led them to dedicate their life to a worthy cause and keep loving to the end, firm in the faith that Life will triumph.
We might not relate to the imminent threat of having armed people at our doors, but do we not each have our own personal mission in life, something that we dedicate all our time, energy and love for? In living this, do we not all experience those moments of fear, doubt, insecurities, discouragement, etc? Where do we go to find the strength and hope that we need to get up and keep giving and loving in these moments? As we read in the second reading today: “Who can overcome the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God” (1Jn 5:5) – that is, whoever has faith in the power of Resurrection, in the Life that is stronger than death, in Love that overcomes hatred. May we each have this ‘Easter Experience’ as the disciples did!
Have a blessed week, Sr. Devy