On the evening of the first Easter day, Jesus' disciples are cowering behind locked doors in the upper room. Fear, however, should be far from their hearts.

Before he leaves them, he gives them his peace and says they should not be troubled or afraid. The Lord has said he is to suffer and die and on the third day to rise. It is now the third day. The disciples should have peace. They should be untroubled.

However, the disciples are troubled. Creeping doubt about what Jesus said robs them of peace. The tender plant of faith in their hearts is choked by fear. Their Lord has been cruelly crucified by his enemies.

There is every reason for them to believe the disciple shall meet with the same fate as the master. Hiding behind locked doors seems a reasonable reaction.

Consider what this means. The disciples are to be Jesus' apostles. They are to be missionary evangelists.

It is impossible for them to fulfill this ministry when they are afraid to go out of the house.

Though the apostles' faith falters, Jesus' faithfulness does not. Jesus appears to the disciples in the upper room. He is kind to the poor apostles huddled there. He does not chide them for being fearful.

He speaks peace to them. He is full of love and mercy -- even toward doubting Thomas. He strengthens their faith.

Their encounter with the risen Lord emboldens them to venture beyond locked doors.

We might relate to those frightened disciples locked away in the upper room.

Our Christian religion is a missionary religion. The mission is hindered by our fearfulness and faltering faith.

Doubt and fear might keep us locked in the safety of familiar surroundings.

Jesus reaches out through the Gospel to enfold us in his love and mercy. He says how blessed we are to believe without seeing. He speaks his peace to us.

He calms our fears. He strengthens our faith. Our own encounter with the risen Christ this Easter makes us bold like the holy apostles of old to venture beyond doors locked in fear and doubt.

Scott Watford is pastoral associate at St. Nicholas of Myra Catholic Church, Hays.