23 April 2017: Second Sunday of Easter/Divine Mercy Sunday

Reading 1 Response Reading 2 Gospel
Acts 2:42-47 Ps 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24 1 Pt 1:3-9 Jn 20:19-31

Resurrection: a source of new sight

White_gold_banner_sm Throughout the Easter season, the Sunday readings ask us, the believing community, to examine the meaning of the resurrection. This week the readings frame resurrection as the source of Christian community and a new way of seeing.

In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, Luke presents an ideal (and idealized) picture of a Christian community. For Luke, the ideal believing community would live in perfect communion or fellowship, would pray for each other, would break bread to recall the Lord’s death, and would listen to the apostle’s teachings about Jesus and discipleship. Luke’s description shows us how far we still have to go.

In the second reading from Peter’s first letter, the author tells his readers that baptism, sometimes called “the bath of regeneration,” is the source of their inheritance of salvation. Our salvation is Jesus’ gift from his passion, death, and resurrection.

In today’s gospel, John contrasts two ways of seeing. When the disciples first see Jesus, they “recognize” him as the same person as the pre-resurrection Jesus. They tell Thomas what they have seen–their “experience.” Thomas doesn’t accept their “experience;” Thomas needs to see and “recognize” Jesus himself. When Jesus appears again, he invites Thomas to see–“recognize”–him; Thomas sees–“experiences”–the resurrected Jesus in a new and personal way. Jesus tells Thomas and the disciples that they believe because they have seen and “experienced” Jesus, but future disciples will believe without seeing and “recognizing” Jesus as he was before his resurrection.

The resurrection requires that disciples learn a new way of seeing and of coming to faith. Before Jesus’ resurrection, disciples encountered and experienced Jesus in a human way, and their faith rested on Jesus’ physical presence. When the disciples encountered the resurrected Jesus, they didn’t recognize him–he didn’t look like the earthly Jesus of their memory. Instead the disciples recognized Jesus by his words and actions. The disciples’ faith, once based on seeing Jesus’ earthly presence, now changes to seeing Jesus’ presence in his continuing relationship with them, and his continuing words and actions. For Catholics, Jesus remains present with us in scripture (words), in sacraments (words, actions, presence), and within the believing community (actions and presence).

Jesus’ resurrection has many meanings and many implications. The church’s Easter season gives us six weeks to reflect on this one cosmos-changing event. Jesus reveals himself in the witness of his disciples, in the liturgy, in the sacraments, and in our own personal encounters with the Lord.

—Terence Sherlock


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