|2nd Sunday of Easter
Psalms 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24
1 John 5:1-6
So as to be more receptive to the graces of the liturgy's readings, imagine that you are back in the same room in which you had gathered with Jesus and his disciples on the night he was betrayed. This time there is no singing, no eating or drinking, and no telling of old traditional events. There is also no Jesus. There is silence and separation; each person is downcast and now and then one checks the lock on the door, and just to make sure. They are not a community, but a confusion.
With this liturgy Easter Week ends, but the resurrection continues. We are praying these days for the "peace" which Jesus rose to share. This "peace" is given so that we too might live lives of sharing ourselves as graces. Individuals war between themselves and among themselves, usually, because they are not at peace with themselves. Perhaps nations do the same thing. We pray that we receive such resurrection graces that we are peacefully in union with Jesus, and through him with our sisters and brothers. The word "community" literally means "with-gifts" and the unity for which we pray, comes from our first being gifted by God's creation of us and redemptive finding of us, even when we are hiding. We pray then to be found, given a new spirit, and bidden to extend his gift of grace to others. We pray to see ourselves in his light and face the darkness of the unknown into which he sends the church.
Early in my Jesuit formation we were all given a book of daily meditations; one for each day of the year. It was very well arranged so that the person praying was told what to think, feel and then do. Every morning we made the same meditation as everyone else and presumably made the same resolutions. The resolve for our praying on the text which is our Gospel for this liturgy was not to imitate Thomas, who wasn't around when Jesus appeared to the disciples. So the real resolution was that we would never miss a community exercise such as recreation, communal prayer, and especially meals. I report that I have been quite faithful to this last one.
The spirit of our readings today actually begins in the Book of Genesis. Adam and Eve are pictured as sharing a communal relationship with God who has shared all creation with them as a grand gift. When they forget that all is a gift and that they are to reverence the love and will of the Giver, they are banished, isolated, and self-absorbed. God comes looking for them and they are hiding and afraid. They are in confusion.
The First Reading from Acts of the Apostles is a study in Christian Community. They lived with the spirit that everything was a gift and only God's creative fingerprints are on them, with an RSVP etched on each. They were a community because they shared God's gifts generously with all, especially those in greater need. They were not at war, but at one.
John's Gospel is a familiar one, chiefly because of Thomas the Doubter who has to see and touch in order to believe. This is a true theme of how John pictures the life of Jesus. Jesus has come to touch and be touched, to be seen through his signs and works. Thomas was not the only doubter and Jesus came to them in their hiding places. Thomas just didn't believe in what he had heard from them about what they had seen.
There is more than "doubting Thomas" to consider today. Jesus comes walking into their "Adam-and-Eve like" hiding. They are alienated from each other, ashamed, and they seem not to know what they are to do next. Jesus comes with peace, unity, and mission. He offers a truce, an end to hostilities among themselves, within themselves individually, and between them and the world. They are offered "peace, forgiveness, in which they are to forgive themselves as they have been forgiven by God." Instead of being banished, as were Adam and Eve, they are "sent" as Jesus was sent to them. They now know what they are to do next, get out of their dumpster, get off their pity-pots and get on with his mission of ending inner-personal and inter-personal wars.
With Easter comes the renewal of our baptisms and the renewal of our knowing who we are and what we are to do next. We have entered joyfully the compassionate community, who is so, because we have entered his compassionate finding of us individually. Besides entering the community centered around Jesus, we even more are entered into his having been sent and the sent, who comprise the church. Our resolve then is not to miss any exercise of that "sentness" in Christ. As he went about doing good works, signs, and the making of peace, so are we. The joy of Easter is the joy of Thomas and the other doubters who no longer had to hide, were allowed to hide, but given a "new creation" a new identity which fit much better than their old ones.
To whom are we sent today, tomorrow and so on? We are meant and sent to continue the recovery of the realization that all things are gifts and not forget to whom they all belong. What Jesus rose to do, he does to each of us; he gives us back ourselves with his risen fingerprints all over us. What we do is live gratefully, generously and never miss a meal where we can share more than food.
"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love is everlasting."
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