Daily Reflection
April 30th, 2000
Larry Gillick, S.J.
Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality
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The Second Sunday of Easter
Acts 4:32-35
Psalms 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24
1 John 5:1-6
John 20:19-31

In the earlier days of the Church, those who had been baptized at Easter, wore their white garments for the next week which ended on this the eighth day.  The day was known as "White Sunday."  In the baptismal rite, when the white garment is placed on the person, the accompanying prayer asks for the grace that the Christian dignity, which the white garment represents, with help of family and friends, will be brought "Unstained into the everlasting life of heaven." 

In today's First Reading, we get a picture of just how family and friends helped the new members of the community.  They sold their property and gave the proceeds to the apostles who distributed them to those in need.  They held everything in common and no one was in need.  The early Church was a community.  This word comes from two Latin words; one meaning "with" and the other meaning, "gift."  So a real community places their gifts in the hands and hearts of the others.

The day I entered the Jesuits, I brought all kinds of goodies and was asked if I had anything, which I would like to share.  I wanted to give everything and so even the canister containing my grandmother's fantastic roasted and salted almonds were generously turned over.  Ah sweet poverty, ah the joys of community life.

That evening, the devil having entered my heart, I discreetly asked who gets to have all those goodies, which my newly entered brothers and I turned in.  When I was told that the next evening we would have a party and share them all together, I smiled sinfully.

As advertised, the next evening, there was the "Common Table" and as I was prompted, I searched for the prized almonds, found them, and inconspicuously took them to my room.  By that time, I knew that these brothers of mine would not reverently appreciate this gift.  "These were not peanuts," I reasoned," they were my grandmother's best."  I ate every single one, not right away, but over the next few weeks, reverently, but increasingly guiltily.

In today's Gospel, we are treated to a favorite Easter-story.  Thomas is not with the community; perhaps he is out eating almonds.  Jesus enters into their place of hiding and fear.  He offers them "peace."  They expect to be shamed and scolded for their having abandoned Jesus.  Instead of calling to mind their having pained Him, He shows them His wounds and offers them "peace" once more. 

Thomas comes back to the group and can not believe; he wants proof.  How comforting to us is that?  So Jesus offers him proof and then offers all future believers hope and faith.  "Blest are those who have not seen and have believed."

There is more to life than meets the eye and believing is seeing.  What we hold onto and our need for Thomas-like proof can blind us.  Jesus expels their fears by appearing to them and then expels them not in anger or disappointment, but with the same love as He Himself was "sent" by His Father.  At the time of Christ's death, the apostles fled.  Here at the time of His Resurrection, the apostles are sent, dispersed to continue the "untombing" of this world.  Even Thomas with his hidden can of almonds receives forgiveness and the mission of extending mercy to all those who have not put their gifts at the service of Christ's brothers and sisters. 

"The victory that conquers the world is faith."  We hear this in the Second Reading today and this faith conquers of the world that is within each of us.  The risen Jesus comes to take away the blindness that needs proof, the sinfulness that expects punishment and the sense of failure which freezes our mission.  Our fears and pride stain our Christian dignity; our Christian dignity is breathed upon again and again by the merciful Spirit of Christ, the Resurrected.  Each of us can sit there, isolated with our empty can of almonds or be sent by the fullness of the ever-entering, peace-offering, Jesus.

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