The new model of living invites us to mirror the image of God we find in it – the face of a deepened humanity, generous, inclusive, loving and attractive. It is not easy.
Those who respond immediately to the impact of the ‘meteor-strike’ of the resurrection of Jesus, do so in loyalty to his teaching, to the brotherhood, the breaking of bread and the fellowship of prayer. There are parallels here with the preaching of the 10 Sikh Gurus in the establishment of the langar – the community kitchen with its emphasis on human equality against caste systems and the sharing of food to all without distinction. Where people open themselves to manifestations of the Spirit of God – generous inclusivity breaks down man-made divisions. So, there are miracles, signs, living together, common ownership, sharing possessions and food, justice and peace. The old order of rigid religious and social divisions of sacred and profane changes. The dialogue demands revolutionary change, but it is an attractive revolution – it appeals to the inner dialogue invested in each person by God. “Day by day the Lord added to their community those destined to be saved.”
The new model of living invites us to mirror the image of God we find in it – the face of a deepened humanity, generous, inclusive, loving and attractive. Is this demanding? Does God ask a lot? Yes! It does not say that the early Christians found it easy. Neither does the Church today. It remains an invitation no matter how many times we fail at striving for its ideals. Around the world, in every continent, there are those inspired to translate their conviction that in humanity lies the seeds of the Divine encounter, revealed here in Christ. In a Peruvian parish in Lima at Easter is found the resurrected Body of Christ in the people who daily live the new life of God, asserting gospel values against every form of inhumanity, injustice and institutionalised corruption which seeks to enslave them. This example is not some antiquarian picture of an air-brushed gilded past – it exists now in communities round the globe – Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Jew, secular – wherever humanity seeks justice, equality and human dignity. It certainly inspires the heirs of this first Christian community in Jerusalem.
So, Peter takes up the same theme. The dialogue spoken fullest in the resurrection has re-created us all as sons and daughters of God. There will be trials – the joy of new birth as children of God will always mean trials; they refine us like gold in the fire. The total and utter conviction, which Peter finds it almost impossible to describe, (“a joy so glorious, that it cannot be described”) is that in the man Jesus, the whole of humanity has been raised by his resurrection to new life! But what we take to be exaggeration, is fact and is an actual destiny meant for everyone. If we take it in easily, we have failed to fully realise its impact.
The utter unbelievability of the fact of the resurrection and of the nature of the message delivered by the one who has come through death (‘Peace!’) is underlined by the story of Thomas and his powerful faith journey. This is the only way we can believe in or trust the word of ‘Peace’ – when it comes from God – God who passionately wants and wills our peace. And here, this peace is spoken by a man – one who has come through death to new life and does not continue the cycle of revengeful violence but only speaks the word of peace.