Jesus had been abandoned by his disciples at the time of his death.
One of them had turned him over to the authorities. Another had
denied he even knew Jesus. The others ran away, apparently in fear
That same fear still gripped the disciples as they stayed behind locked doors. The risen Jesus suddenly appears among them, and there is not a word about their betrayal, denial, and abandonment.
“Peace be with you,” he says, as though nothing had ever happened. They look at his wounds, and he repeats his remarkable greeting: “Peace be with you.”
If only we could follow in the footsteps of Christ and wish peace to
everyone! If only we could forgive as he forgave! Where would be the
wars? the discrimination? the hatred? the death penalty? They would
go the way of death itself, conquered by the resurrection.
Jesus assures us that we have received the Holy Spirit. We have the power to release others of their wrongs against us, just as we have the power to keep them and ourselves bound. Our Easter faith that we have “become a new creation” should strengthen our resolve to forgive as Christ forgave.
We urge our brothers and sisters in Christ to remember the teaching of Jesus, who called us to be reconciled with those who have injured us and to pray for forgiveness for our sins “as we forgive those who have sinned against us.”
We call on you to contemplate the crucified Christ, who set us the supreme example of forgiveness and of the triumph of compassionate love.
U.S. Bishops, Statement on Capital Punishment, 1980:23.