The Easter gifts of Christ to his apostles and to the early church are threefold. Christ repeatedly offers the gift of peace to a frightened band of disciples cowering behind closed doors. In line with his constant injunctions not to fear, Christ offers the peace he has won in the heat of his battle with suffering and death. We have been reconciled to God and can now be at peace with God. We can be at peace with others when we respect them, when we accept or offer the spirit of forgiveness, and we can be at peace with ourselves when we come to a faith which gives direction and meaning to the confusion and to the suffering of life. We can and ought to be at peace with ourselves, others, the environment and creation. This is a peace hard won, a peace the world does not give.
The spirit of forgiveness of sins holds the key to being at peace with God, with others and with self. This forgiveness has been hard won by Christ and does not come cheaply. We, like the apostles are sent out, commissioned by the call and by the responsibilities of our baptismal promises which we renewed at Easter. Each one is sent to witness to the spirit of forgiveness and the gift of peace by example and by integrity of life. Easter people are forgiven, peaceable people, Christ-like people.
To believe is difficult. Thomas the sceptic is transformed however into Thomas the ultimate believer. The one who refused to believe without physical evidence, now in the presence of the risen Christ acclaims Christ as his Lord, and as his God. No other statement says so much about Christ in so few words. The gift of faith is founded on Thomas’ healthy scepticism and in the process he wins for us a final beatitude to all of us who manage to believe, most of the time, without the benefit of seeing the risen Christ first-hand.
To believe or to come to belief is to be given the promise of life, through the name of Jesus. The life of the spirit which raised Jesus from the dead is at work in us when we believe and profess the Resurrection and this spirit wells up within us to overflow into eternal everlasting life.
Meantime we are sent out to love and serve Christ the Lord, our Lord and our God, the giver of Easter gifts of peace, of forgiveness, and of faith, so that believing we may have life, so that we may share in Christ’s Resurrection and eternal life by imitating him in life, in suffering and in death.