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  • Writer's picturePhil



John 20: 19-23


When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met

were locked for fear of the Jews,

Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me,

so I send you.’

When he had said this,

he breathed on them

and said to them,

‘Receive the Holy Spirit.

If you forgive the sins of any,

they are forgiven them;

if you retain the sins of any,

they are retained.’


The Lord God formed man out of clay and blew into his nostrils the breath of life; man became a living being.” Jesus, please come to us right through the sealed-shut doors of our souls. Breathe your Spirit out upon us. Stay close by, and let us breathe your most excellent air. Renew and enlarge our hearts and fill them with your very own Spirit life.

Catholic Studies Program

at Saint Louis University


The remaining Disciples in the

Upper Room that evening

were locked in – because of fear.

What happened to Jesus

could very easily have happened

to them too - they were marked men.

Apart from Thomas, apparently.

It wasn’t going to stop him carrying-on with life as normal.

How terribly British, Thomas!

So out went Thomas,

whether there were things to fear or not –

life had to go on, didn’t it, Tom?

And as for Jesus rising from the dead,

well, that didn’t happen, did it, Thomas?

Unless Thomas could see the marks

and touched the wounds,

he wasn’t going to believe.

Thomas – a matter-of-fact kind of man.

Jesus - matter-of-fact as well.

When He broke through the locked doors

of that vulnerable Upper Room,

He gave them matter-of-fact instructions:

He commissioned them, empowered them, ordained them with the promise of the Holy Spirit;

He gave them authority to act on behalf of His Father;

He gave them responsibility to unlock the doors to liberate those locked-in by guilt....

“Those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven;

those whose sins you retain, they are retained.”

These words of Jesus were not just for the Apostles then.

They are for us now - a blueprint for today's Church.

The Coronavirus has us in lockdown now.

We are fearful of spreading this awful virus any further;

fearful for our families, friends, communities, ourselves.

Locked-in for fear of spreading the virus any further;

Locked-in, perhaps, fearing an uncertain future –

work, job insecurity, mounting debt,

loss of loved ones…..

When fear is real to you,

as it was to the Apostles in that Upper Room;

when you feel “locked-in to yourself”,

perhaps resorting to unhelpful dealing-mechanisms;

when serious doubts start to erode your faith;

listen to the voice of Him who overcomes barriers,

releases locks and bursts out of death's tomb,

as He says to you





we find ourselves locked behind the doors of our fears,

just as the disciples were behind closed doors.

Lord, we are like Thomas, with our questions and our doubts.

We sometimes need to see in order to believe,

we need you in order to have faith. Lord, we too need the peace you bring

because life is fraught with illness, suffering, violence, and unrest. Lord we thank you for the blessing you have given us,

may we come to believe without seeing. Abi Carlisle-Wilke, "Long and Winding Road".

Lord our Father, as Jesus entered the locked room

to show his disciples the beginning of a new world,

so enter our hearts and move us to faith

in Jesus as the Risen One.

Convince us of the reality and significance of the resurrection,

and release us from all manner of fears and phobias.

Give us courage in the face of death,

knowing that this is the gateway to resurrection life

as we endeavour to put our trust in Christ.

Give us your Easter joy, Lord Jesus,

and while we are distanced from others,

draw us closer to you,

that when the doors of our isolation are flung open,

we may burst out into a world blossoming

with resurrection hope, faith and love.

Gordon Giles, for Bible Reading Fellowship

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