In the days after the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ, the apostles went into hiding, according to John’s Gospel (20:19). They were afraid of the Jews. Behind closed doors, Jesus met with those to whom He had entrusted His mission and ministry. He wished them His peace and then showed them his wounds (20:20).
This cheered the fearful apostles a little (20:20).
But Jesus gave them little time for comfort, for his next words were these: “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you” (20:21).
In other words, he expected His disciples to overcome their fears and secrecy and to leave their hiding place and go into the world as apostles – carry God’s Good News to all humanity – just as He had done through His life, death and resurrection.
He had just showed them His wounds, His message was clear: Go into the world, in love as I have done, and love the world. Suffer and die for the salvation of the world. Don’t be afraid, this is the way of glory for God’s people. He wished them peace as He told them to go into the world to suffer as He had suffered for the sins of the world and for its salvation.
Last week, the OCA’s synod of bishops also met behind closed doors, in closed session. It is possible like the apostles in whose succession they are, they too have fears which is why they close the doors. They have much to discuss, as they have many problems and issues to deal with. They seem to have much to fear as well – lawyers, allegations, lawsuits, scandal, the Internet, their flock, declining membership, clergy sexual misconduct, clergy abuse, financial mismanagement, the press, public opinion, secularism, democracy, crises, inadequacies, transparency, the past, the present and the future. These are “the Jews” whom the successors to the apostles fear today and so stay behind closed doors. A week after they meet, their deliberations remain locked behind those doors, for fear of their “Jews.”
We can pray that Christ will appear to them the next time they assemble behind closed doors, in closed session. Perhaps He will give them peace, certainly He will tell them to leave the confines of their hiding place, to open the doors and go into the world to teach all that He commanded. This time around though I think he needs to show not just the mark of the nails and the place where the spear pierced his side – still open and yet transfigured wounds. He needs to show that He is still bleeding from these wounds, He needs to show the tears on His cheeks as He weeps for His Church, for its wounded members, for the leadership which imagines it can lead from behind doors which are closed in fear of the …
The only things we really need to fear is God and His judgment, and that we can fail as disciples to be His Church.