Daily Reflection
April 11th, 1999
Cathy Pederson
Campus Ministry
Acts 2:42-47
Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24
1 Peter 1:3-9
John 20:19-31

“Peace be with you.  As Abba God sent  me, so I’m sending you…Receive the Holy Spirit.” John 20:21-22

Easter.  For many of us, this probably included gatherings with family and friends.  Two of our out-of-town daughters were able to join our family for Easter weekend.  Even though we stay in close contact with them via phone and email, it is an entirely different kind of ‘contact’ when they step over the threshold into our family home.  We can see and experience their real presence…a tangible reassurance that they really are OK….and a re-connection to carry us through until we can again be together.

Today’s gospel is filled with moments of needed reassurance, of tangible presence, of re-connection between Jesus and his followers, and the dawning of a mission for those connected with Jesus.

The frightened disciples had barricaded themselves from the temple authorities.  Would they be blamed for the absence of Jesus’ body from the tomb?  The fact that Mary had seen Jesus earlier in the day did not calm the other disciples’ fears.  It was ONLY when Jesus stood in their midst, greeting them with peace that they were able to celebrate Jesus real presence among them.

But, even the testimony of all who had seen Jesus was not enough for Thomas, who had not been with the others that first night.  Thomas needed tangible proof of the resurrected Jesus and reasurring words from his colleagues was not enough!  Thomas needed to see Jesus, to experience his presence, before he could believe.

It is not difficult to comprehend the followers’ fears following Jesus’ death.  Their disbelief of one another’s testimony of the resurrected Jesus is very understandable.  As humans, we need the reassuring presence of one another’s company to ‘know’ that everything is OK.  Once the block of our fears is removed, we can then open ourselves to ‘hear’ the news of our loved ones’ lives.

So too, Jesus invited his friends into the ‘news’ of his life:  “Peace be with you.  As Abba God sent me, I am sending you….Receive the Holy Spirit.”  It would take a while for Jesus friends to begin to grasp and actually follow Jesus’ commission.  They would need more time with Jesus, absorbing his new presence before they could actually open to the Spirit’s presence…and be sent, as is evidenced in today’s passage from the Acts of the Apostles.

And how are we modern day followers to be reassured of God’s presence in our midst?  As adult Christians, we are called to believe AND to live that belief.  A tall order unless we are willing to open to God’s presence in the actions, beliefs, and presence of other believers.  And in being reassured of God’s presence in others’ lives, we can then accept the mission to BE God’s real presence in our everyday lives.

In these next weeks before Pentecost, let us contemplate how we are reassured of God’s presence in those around us in order to prepare ourselves to BE God’s real presence, just as the early Christians “…devoted themselves to the teachings of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers…sharing all things in common…and praising God.”  (Acts of the Apostles 2:42,44, & 47)

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