Reflection: Second Sunday of Easter

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m.

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

Bible study/sharing every Saturday (2:00-4:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church, 5 Leicester Place WC2H 7BX (near See Woo Chinese Supermarket, Leicester Square tube station)

Talk and discussion meeting First Monday of every month (4:00-6:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church

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[1st Reading – Acts 2:42-47; Ps.117; 2nd Reading – 1Pr.1:3-9; Gospel – Jn.20:19-31]

Through today’s gospel, we are to experience once again something else that happened “on the first day of the week” but in the evening of that same day.  We are told that although the doors were closed (in the room, where the disciples had locked themselves in, for fear of the Jews), Jesus came and stood among them.  Now that Jesus is risen from the dead and has therefore overcome and won death, nothing is going to stop him from being with his disciples.  There are various reasons why Jesus wanted to be with his disciples.  It is not because he was missing them which might be an affectionate human reason.  As for this, the disciples were the ones who were missing Jesus the most.

We are told that as soon as Jesus stood among them, he said “Peace be with you”.  This has become a recognisable characteristic of the risen Lord.  It does not only denote the fact that Jesus is giving them his peace, but it also gives the disciples a reason to be filled with joy and therefore to overcome the fear of the Jews.  Now that Jesus is back with them, there is no reason why they should continue to be afraid…  Yet there is another reason why they were filled with joy: Jesus was dead and now they can see with their own eyes that he is alive… with them… not as a ghost, but as someone who has flesh and bones… a true and real human being…  Yet, this human being is the same Jesus whom they knew when he was still with them, alive.  On the other hand, he is still also doing the same things that show his link with the divine, and therefore his own divinity.  In fact, after giving them his peace for the second time, he also sent them “as his father sent him” and he breathed on them and gave them the Holy Spirit.  This action reminds us very much of what happened at the very beginning of time (in the Book of Genesis) when God gave life to the first human being…  So Jesus gives a new life to his disciples and he also gives them authority – the same authority that he has to forgive sins (because only God can forgive sins!).

So Jesus’ return back to life therefore was not only a means of joy to his disciples because they were seeing Jesus again, it was also a way of making of the disciples participants, while still here on earth, of the kingdom of heaven.

We are told that Thomas, the Twin, who was one of the Twelve (someone who knew Jesus quite intimately) was not with them in the room when Jesus came.  He did not have the experience of the risen Lord.  He only had the experience of the dead Lord.  Therefore he struggled to understand and even when the others told him that they have seen Jesus, he “refused” to believe unless he could have the same experience of the risen Lord too.  He created a blockage to his faith.

We are told that eight days later the disciples and Thomas were in the same house again, with closed doors … and Jesus came in, once again and stood among them.  We are not told why they had to wait eight days … maybe to have the time to let the experience sink in them?!   Yet Jesus, once more as before, addressed them with his characteristic ‘Peace be with you’ and without any delay he spoke to Thomas inviting him to touch … and have the experience that he wanted to have ‘of the risen Lord’. Then Jesus added: “Doubt no longer but believe.”  It was an invitation addressed directly to Thomas.  Yet it was an invitation to the others and also to us too – how often are we like Thomas? We want to have that direct ‘experience’ of something whilst forgetting that faith is to trust wholeheartedly and totally in God – as Jesus did in relationship to the Father.

Jesus calls those who do so “Happy”… as were the disciples when they had seen the risen Christ without having to put their fingers in his wounds from the cross.  After this event, we are told that the disciples were witnesses to many other signs worked by Jesus which continued to reinforce their own faith…

We are invited to believe, and maybe we will not see or have the empirical experiences of the signs and the miracles of Jesus … but are we accepting Jesus’ invitation to have faith and trust wholeheartedly in God?

“Lord, we too would like to say ‘My Lord and my God!’  Help us to learn the true meaning of such truth and give us enough openness to let ourselves trust, wholeheartedly in God’s love and providence.  Thank you Lord!”

 

 

Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo http://www.stpatrickwaterloo.org.uk/ )

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