Updated: Apr 12, 2018
Second Sunday of Easter
Our readings this week give us a glimpse of how the first communities of Christians began to understand their purpose and identity. When Jesus appeared to his disciples, he said, “Peace be with you,” calling his followers to bring his peace and forgiveness to God’s
beloved world. The early Church realized it was not a group of individuals each seeking to live virtuously and then go to heaven. Instead, Christians formed communities, empowered by the Spirit, attempting to live in profound trust in God and in each other. Remembering how Jesus displayed his wounds to his disciples, the church came to realize that it is called to share in the life of a wounded world. When we, the Church today, demonstrate our faith and love in action, we also show everyone who the crucified Jesus really is—the One who knows and accompanies us in our human suffering.
THE WOUNDS OF JESUS
In the Gospel passage from John, Jesus appears twice to his disciples, and both times Jesus shows them his wounds from his crucifixion. Thomas actually touches the wounds. Jesus’ wounds did not disappear after the Resurrection. Jesus meant for his followers to know that his sufferings, and ours, are part of our encounter with him. Jesus revealed how God is present in our human suffering, joining us in our most painful moments with consolation and with mercy.
Suffering is a great mystery, and we cannot adequately explain or justify the many wounds we experience in life. However, in prayer God can open a way forward. The Holy Spirit might offer wisdom to perceive when or how our sufferings make healing or hope possible for others or for ourselves. When we enter into this mystery we follow Jesus, who radically trusted God to transform his sufferings into new life.
In just a few verses, we see that the disciples received not only a new perspective on suffering, but a new energy and a new task in their lives. Their new energy, Jesus’ very breath, is the Holy Spirit. Their new task, given in the same breath, is to embody God’s forgiveness and proclaim this forgiveness to all. When Jesus appeared to them, he didn’t castigate them for their abandonment and betrayal of him just days before. Jesus gave them the peace of being forgiven. He gave the Holy Spirit, so to forgive others.
The experience of being forgiven and forgiving others is at the heart of the Gospel. Jesus came to proclaim and to manifest God’s desire to reconcile with God’s very sons and daughters, us human beings. God is always working toward reconciliation and rejoices when any broken relationship is healed. When we accept forgiveness from God or from others, we are letting God into our hearts. When we forgive others or ourselves, we are participating in God’s work.
Today’s Readings: Acts 4:32–35; Ps 118:2–4, 13–15, 22–24; 1 Jn 5:1–6; Jn 20:19–31