We have now transitioned from Lent to Easter Season, a period of eight weeks through Pentecost. In this Season the First Reading is always from the Acts of the Apostles, the second book attributed to Luke about the history of the early Church describing how the salvation promised to Israel in the Old Testament, accomplished by Jesus has now been extended to the Gentiles under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. As the Second Reading during this Easter Season we read many passages of the First Letter of John, composed as a short treatise toward the end of the first century by John the Evangelist.
The Gospel according to John talks about the first hours of the bunch of ragged followers hiding frightened in a locked up room, after their leader had been executed on the cross and the body had vanished… the very morning of that first Sunday they had found the empty tomb. Everything seemed to have gone wrong, including Peter’s denial and the others running away, now hiding and wondering when the Jews were going to come and get them. In the midst of this angst Jesus appears to all of them and after raising from the dead the first thing he says is Shalom, meaning peace (much more than calm and stillness), communion with God, one’s neighbor and the earth. This reminds me that when we wish peace to each other we do not mean absence of trauma or conflict, but fullness and fulfillment of life. If you were astounded, like I was, that after coming back from death the first thing coming out Jesus mouth is Peace, isn’t it amazing that right after that he gives the power to forgive sins as sort of the first instruction to the leaders of his community. In my humanity I could imagine many other things I would have told my friends after such a unique experience. I am in awe recognizing how clear Jesus knows of our human toiling making the first directive to his apostles (ambassadors) to forgive sins. In the sentence between the Shalom and
forgiveness he officially makes them ambassadors (“as the Father has sent me, so I send you”).
If the first passage of the Gospel created incredible amazement, the next passage made me feel right at home when Didymus (meaning twin in Greek) insists on proof from his fellows when they tell him of their first encounter with the risen Jesus. We are all doubting Thomases, aren’t we? We want to experience through our senses (see, touch, feel) before we believe anything. In order to let us build our faith, in the second post-Resurrection appearance, and once the same Thomas (meaning twin in Aramaic) satisfied his sense (by touching the hands and side of Christ), Jesus blesses all of us who not having seen, we do believe. Having as one of our key witnesses to the resurrected Christ someone so much like us, gives me a sense of comfort.
The last passage of today’s Gospel reading is the end of John (before the Epilogue attributed to an editor), telling us that the few signs that were written, of the many Jesus performed in the presence of his disciples, were documented so that we may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Redeemer foretold in the thousands of years of Jewish tradition.
A complete text of the readings at http://scriptures-my-journey-oflife-andfaith.blogspot.com/2009/04/second-sunday-of-easter.html
With God’s Love and Blessings,
P.S. Please include my brother-in-law Andreas in your prayers for a successful surgery on Monday (April 20th) and complete and speedy healing thereafter.
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