Thursday, March 31, 2016

Second Sunday of Easter


The first Easter Sunday was a day of confusion; the disciples were perplexed in the face of the empty tomb.

The disciples were gathered in the upper room with the doors locked. What happened to him could happen to us.”

But the Risen Jesus broke through their fears and guilt and locked doors declaring: “Peace.”

Note well that Christ does not shame them.

He does not blame.

He forgives.

He extends mercy.

Jesus needed the disciples to be faith-filled. “As the Father sent me, so I send you.” Then he breathed the Holy Spirit upon them…for the forgiveness of sins…calling them to be Church…forming them into disciples for the world.

He transforms frightened and confused individuals into a community of disciples gathered together in love – called to become His very presence in the world and to continue together the mission the Father gave Him – to reveal the mercy of God and to give life, eternal life.

When we are locked behind closed doors and unable to reach out to others, he comes to us with his message of love and peace.

Some of us have deep wounds, deep hurts, fears, Yet Jesus forgives us for He is wounded as well. He still bears the marks of the nails and spear.

BUT Thomas was not with them that first Easter night!
So when the others tell him the good news, Thomas is caught in doubt. He will hear nothing of it. He has to experience it himself.

Thomas ONLY expected death. And when it happened, which he expected, he was still so heartbroken that he had to be alone and suffer and grieve alone, away from the community….

The resurrection story was too good to be true.

Where was Thomas? Why did he not join the others on that Sunday?

He may have needed to distance himself from all the disciples, and from all that reminded him of Jesus and anything associated with him.

Thomas may have even been angry that Jesus had failed.

He may have even been regretting his decision that he had ever followed the preacher from Nazareth.

And now some women claim that Christ is risen! He can’t believe that Jesus would appear first to WOMEN!

Maybe Thomas said to himself: “No, he didn't die…Well, yes, he did die, so there is no way he is alive. And He couldn't have appeared to Mary Magdalene!

“Happy endings just don’t happen.”

Thomas is focused on death and all that is negative. 

Thomas would not believe Jesus has been resurrected unless he could physically verify it for himself, even though he was a witness to the raising of Lazarus.

Many people tend to withdraw in difficult situations, at just the time when they need community the most (a symptom of depression)

This closes us off of God’s grace. In spite of our sorrow or disappointment, we should seek out the community of faith.
We can all be like Thomas. 

We all resist God's action in our lives and get mad at Him and fail to trust Him. 

We can be like Thomas and live in the past and stew over things in regret…

We can hide in the upper room; we can be like the others and stare into the tomb, we can sit there and obsess over our losses, lamenting what was!

And all the while we miss the joy!!! We fail to witness to the new life that is all about us!

Imagine that we were oblivious to the budding trees all around us, the plants and the flowers, and all the color of new life exploding all around us!

In our hearts, we could still be back in the darkest and coldest days of January and February, our hearts cold, still lamenting and mourning how cold that winter was and how cold and how much snow and ice…and how inconvenient it all was and all the misery and problems it caused.

BUT SPRING has sprung!

We have but to lift up our heads and open our eyes!

And we have but only to turn to today’s First Reading to see the transforming power of God upon the church community! 
In the Acts of the Apostles, Luke writes of the early church: (ACTS 2:42-47) They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers.

Awe came upon everyone…All who believed were together and had all things in common….And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

In the Acts of the Apostles and in the Gospels, we see the early Church's commitment to the celebration of the Eucharist and hearing the Word of God – the teaching of the apostles and the breaking of the bread! and the importance of community fellowship, regular church attendance and attentiveness the needs of each member of the community.

The Church is called to joy! Faith and generosity should be contagious! We as Church should be attractive, causing others to want to join!

And there is new life budding forth here! The Lord is adding new members to the Church here!  

In less than a month several visitors have spoken with me, introducing themselves as either new members or they have been so moved by the hospitality among the people and the reverence in the Liturgies that they have decided to join our parish.

I witnessed a new member who invited her entire family to Easter Sunday Mass! What a witness!

There is new life here!

The tomb is empty! Alleluia!

We have a great treasure. And it is ours to share!
Yes, there will be trials, as Peter reminds us in the second reading. 

When we follow Christ, we will experience pain, sorrow, and even death. But life, not death, will have the last word.

As St. Paul wrote: “Nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8.35, 37-39).

Despite the locked doors of our hearts, Jesus will break in and stand in our midst and bring us his Peace and Mercy!

May we, when we are confronted with sorrow, pain, and death, be like St. Thomas, and fall at the feet of our Lord Jesus and cry out: “My Lord and My God!”