The Saturday after Good Friday must have been a very long day for the apostles. Were they hiding? Did they hang together? Were they with their families? Was Mary with them?
The apostles’ emotions must have been all over the place. Guilt, confusion, fear, disillusion, remorse, hope, — and lots of questions.
Then came Easter Sunday morning. Could it be true what others are saying? Did Jesus truly rise from the dead?
I don’t think the apostles were too surprised to hear that he had risen. Jesus did many remarkable things during his three years with them, including raising Lazarus from the dead. They had seen Jesus’ power.
What they worried about was whether he would forgive them. Peter denied him. The rest failed him, abandoning him in his hour of need. Only John stood by him on Calvary.
The apostles could imagine the risen Christ going back to Galilee and starting all over. They could picture him saying to them, “Hey, you guys blew it. I’m going to gather a new group of twelve to carry on my work.”
When the risen Jesus appeared to Peter and the rest of the apostles, what were his first words? “Peace be with you.” Alleluia! They were forgiven! He didn’t give up on them. They were still in his plans. They were still in his heart.
The good news of Easter is both the power of Jesus over death and the willingness of Jesus to forgive. The apostles experienced first hand his mercy. They rejoiced in reconciliation. They could now be sent forth to proclaim with faith and conviction God’s loving forgiveness. “Look what God has done for us.”
Fr. Alan Phillip, C.P. is a member of the Passionist Community at Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California. http://www.alanphillipcp.com/