By Fr. Matthew Keller, C.PP.S.
Video cameras are all around us these days: just pull out your phone and press record and you’ll have a video. But I grew up in the era before cell phones. If you wanted to record a video, you needed a specific camera. I remember that you would put a blank VHS tape in the camera to record your video then later take the VHS tape out of the camera and put the VHS tape in the VCR. Rewind the VHS back to the beginning, and you could watch whatever you had recorded.
When I was about nine years old my parents bought a video camera and at first I was a little excited. Mom or Dad would record our family standing in front of the camera and singing a song, or a birthday celebration, or better yet, recording at Christmas time when Santa Claus gifts were opened. They also recorded some everyday fun. I think they even have footage of my brothers and me wrestling together.
These were special moments to catch on camera, and it was good to be able to go back and reminisce while watching these videos. But I must admit, after watching the first recording that I did, I do not like to watch these videos over again. The camera caught me doing things that were rather foolish or stupid. It was nothing too bad, but my actions at times were kind of embarrassing.
In our Scriptures today, we read that the disciples are hiding behind closed doors in fear. In fear that the Jewish leaders had arrested and put to death their Master, Jesus, and now they are wondering if they could be next. They are in fear but I would imagine that they also feel foolish, slightly stupid, and slightly embarrassed as well. If there had been a video camera on Jesus, it would have caught them telling Jesus that they would never leave him, even if that meant dying with him. The camera would have also caught the moment of truth: when they came to arrest Jesus, the disciples did not stay with Jesus but they ran away in fear. In their fear, I would imagine that the disciples are replaying in their minds all the events that happened, and also having conversations with each other. They may have not been on camera, but certainly they mental home videos that keep getting replayed over and over in their heads.
In the midst of this fear, foolishness and embarrassment, Jesus comes and appears to the disciples. He is not there to scold them or to ask, “Where were you?” Nor did he say, “You said that you would stay by my side and die with me, but I told you that you were going to flee from me when they would come to arrest me. Peter, I told you that you would deny me three times, and I was right, you did what I said you were going to do.”
Jesus did not say, “You could not be there when I needed you the most, so that is it, you are done.” Rather than condemning or making the disciples feel more foolish. Jesus does the exact opposite. Jesus appears and says, “Peace is with you” (John 19:20). Jesus says peace and forgives them for not being there. He says the past is the past, let’s move forward into a new future.
As we look back on our past, whether physically recorded and/or mentally recorded, we may not be proud of all that we see. But because of Jesus’s cross and resurrection, he also forgives us of our past, gives us his peace, and invites us to move forward into a new future.
To view the full scripture reading, click here.
Fr. Matt Keller, C.PP.S., is the parochial vicar of the Downtown Dayton Catholic Parishes, which include Emmanuel, Holy Trinity and St. Joseph.