2nd Sunday of Easter – Year C.
Commentary Theme for this Sunday:
“The Community Animated By The Word Is The Proof That Christ Is Alive”.
The Gospel tells us that our faith is not founded on scientific “proof”, but on listening every Sunday to the word of the ‘Risen One’, who is present among us gathered together as a community, and who speaks to us.
The first reading states that there is something that can be seen and verified: the life of the Christian community, born from the faith in the Risen Lord. It is these communities of people leading a completely new life that testifies that Jesus is alive and has sent his Spirit into the world.
Also, the second reading invites us to examine the situation of our communities, to see if they really place the Risen Lord at the centre of their lives.
It is recommended that the actual readings are first studied and then meditated upon with a prayer to the Holy Spirit to grant you the gift of ‘wisdom’ to understand the meaning of the messages of Love, Forgiveness and the Offer of Salvation that the Lord has for each one of us in the Holy Bible.
These commentaries, which have been extracted and summarised for our meditation, are from the published works of priests who have, by their Divine inspiration, become acclaimed scholars of the Scriptures and generally reflect the Church’s understanding of the readings.
‘Daily Reflections’ and a Prayer are included to enable us to ‘Live the Word’ during the week following the Sunday Mass. We will begin to understand the meaning of gratuitous love and our life’s true purpose. Through His Word, we will follow the Light to help fulfil the mission that has been given to each one of us by our Creator.
“Allow the Spirit of God to break the chains that keep us from understanding and accepting the word of God.”
Salvation history and the story of Jesus’ ministry did not end with the Resurrection of Jesus. In fact, the final phase only began with the Resurrection. In the weeks that follow Easter Sunday, the first readings recount the early years of that final phase. The passage we have for this Second Sunday of Easter in Year C is a summary that gives us a thumbnail sketch of how things were in the Jerusalem church during those earliest times of the apostles’ ministry. It describes the life of the early Christian community in Jerusalem. It may help us to examine the characteristics of this community that our modern Christian community should also possess.
The first characteristic is that the community is firmly united: “One in heart”. The early Christians are not people who deal with God on their own. The Church is not a place where the individual faithful enters and buys what he or she needs for the salvation of their soul, just as if it were a shop. Christians form a family, where members take an interest in that unity, and are loyal to each other and feel somehow responsible for each other.
The second characteristic is that everybody held them in high esteem: “The people were loud in their praise”. The behaviour of those who had embraced the faith raised a lot of interest and admiration because it was clearly different from that of other people.
The third characteristic is the strong attraction the first Christian communities exerted on all: “and the numbers of the men and women who came to believe increased steadily”. What urged so many people to become disciples of Christ? We find the reason in the second part of the reading: “People came in crowds bringing with them their sick and those tormented by unclean spirits, and all of them were cured”.
The Apostles repeat the deeds done by Jesus, deeds all aimed at helping others or fostering their good and well-being: curing the sick, guiding to salvation those oppressed by evil or who were living in a state of unhappiness. This is the proof that Christ is alive and had given his disciples the same healing powers! The followers of Jesus had been sure that the Crucifixion was the end of a dream. The Resurrection soon convinced them otherwise. Their dream took on a new meaning, a new depth.
Can we repeat these same things today? Certainly! As regards to miraculous healing, we still have that in the Church today. Christian religious ‘Shrines’ all over the world are decorated with the crutches and braces of those who have been healed there. But much more frequent are the healing of mind and soul that take place in the ‘Church’s Sacraments’: the strengthening of the spirit in the Eucharist, deliverance from sin in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, spiritual (and sometimes physical) comfort and healing in the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.
One does not need to have the power to work miracles in order to beat all forms of evil, to defeat disease and all other destructive forces present among people. All we have to do is to make good use of the immense capacity that the good Lord has endowed us with. Christian salvation history continues to proclaim concern for the weak, the injured, and the vulnerable. It no longer takes place through the shadow of an apostle, but through the sacramental words and actions of the ordained ministers of the Lord – and also elsewhere.
Finally, there is the reality of the ever-increasing vigour of Christ’s life in the Church. Every diocese celebrates the ‘Rite of Election’ each year, a gathering in which those who have not been baptized are elected for reception into the Catholic Christian community at Easter. The text tells us that great numbers were added to the Church.
How can we witness to present day humankind that Jesus is alive? Will words be enough or are we going to need also deeds? What deeds of love and compassion can we perform? Just ask yourself daily, “What would Jesus do”? Then go and do the same!
Psalm 118:2-4, 22-27.
The Psalm of last week is repeated and continued. For the Christian, the “Day of the Lord” is now the “Day of Resurrection” and the blessing on “Him who comes” (Mk. 11:9) is not for the devout pilgrim entering the Temple, but for Christ coming to his bereaved disciples after Easter.
Apocalypse 1:9-13, 17-19.
The churches of Asia were under threat. Rumour had it that the Roman authorities were soon to insist on full observance of ‘emperor worship’: all would have to cry, “Caesar is lord and god!” Domitian was an arrogant and cruel tyrant who severely punished those who refused to honour him in this way.
The author of the Book of Revelation is writing to encourage these Christians to keep their faith and his book describes the vision that he had. John sees a ‘Son of Man’ standing among seven golden lamp-stands, dressed in a long robe tied at the waist with a belt of gold. What is the meaning of these images? The ‘Son of Man’ is the ‘Risen Lord’. The long robe was the dress of the temple priests, and shows that now the ‘only Priest’ is Jesus. The belt of gold was a symbol of royalty: thus Jesus is now also the ‘only King’. The seven golden lamp-stands represent the whole Christian community (seven is a figure signifying the whole).
The sense of this imposing scene is the following: the Risen Lord, not the emperor, must now be the centre of worship by all the Christian communities. Jesus is the King that leads and governs with his Word; he is the Priest who, in giving his life, offers the only sacrifice acceptable to God. Who is the object of honour of today’s Christians? What king are we obeying? Christ or the powerful oppressor in office?
In the Gospel John tells how Jesus appeared to the apostles on the first Easter Sunday saying to them, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you…. Receive the Holy Spirit.” The ‘Risen Jesus’ makes clear that because of his Resurrection his followers, empowered by the Holy Spirit, were to go out to the world bearing the ‘Good News’.
Thomas, one of the twelve, wasn’t present at Jesus’ appearance to the others. On hearing of it he doubted that it happened. Most early Christians had not seen the Risen Christ. They were in much the same position as we are. So John uses the story of Thomas to assure them and us that Jesus indeed is truly Risen. Jesus says to them, and to us, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” John does not blame Thomas. In his mind Thomas represents the disciples who find it difficult to believe in the Resurrection of Christ. It is important to keep in mind that even the apostles did not find it easy to believe in the Resurrection; and this, in spite of the repeated appearances of the Lord. John wants to instruct the Christians of his communities who wanted to see before believing. He tells them about Thomas and explains that the Risen Lord lives a life that escapes our senses, a life that cannot be touched or seen. It can only be experienced by faith.
We say, “Blessed are those who saw”, don’t we? But Jesus says “the blessed ones are those who have not seen”. Why? Maybe we think that it is harder for them to believe and therefore their faith is more meritorious. But it is not exactly so: they are blessed because their faith is more genuine, purer. One who sees has been given the irrefutable proof of a fact; and this is not faith.
John describes how to arrive at this faith in the last part of today’s Gospel: “There were many other signs that Jesus worked and the disciples saw, but they are not recorded. These are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, and that in believing this you may have life through his name”. Here then is the proof: the Gospel. That’s why we have the Word of Christ, that’s where the person of Christ is revealed and we are invited to follow him. There is no other proof besides this Word. To understand this better let us remember the parable of the Good Shepherd: “My sheep know my voice” (Jn. 10:4, 14, 27). No seeing is required! The voice of the Shepherd rings out in the Gospel, and the sound of his voice is recognized by his sheep. Will we recognise His voice?
When Christians live the message in neighbourliness it is where the presence of the Lord can be seen and touched. This way of life is the most powerful witness to the ‘Resurrection’.
‘Acknowledgement and Thanks’ to ‘Recommended Source Material’ by:
Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Fr. Fernando Armellini SCI, Peter Edmonds SJ, Richard Baawobr M.Afr, Joseph A. Slattery Ph.D, Adelmo Spagnolo MCCJ, Silvester O’Flynn OFM Cap, J.E. Spicer CSsR, John R. Donahue SJ and Alice Camille – Master’s degree in Divinity.
Reflections for each day this Week to lead us in the ‘Way, the Truth and the Life’
Almighty God and Father, on the … of the week following 2nd. Sunday of Easter Year C, we reflect on …
Sun. … Are we as a Christian community united ‘One in heart’? Are we held in high esteem by those whom we serve? Are we able to attract those searching for the Truth and the Way because we, as a Christian community, are seen as true witnesses to Jesus?
Mon. … Do we make sufficient use of the ‘miraculous gifts of healing’ in the Church’s sacraments? Today Christian salvation no longer takes place in the ‘shadow of an apostle’, but through the power of the Holy Spirit and by the sacramental word and actions of the ordained ministers of the Lord. Pray over ways that gazing upon the wounds of Christ’s mystical body can bring you to a deeper understanding of the healing miracle of the Eucharist.
Tues. … How can we as a faithful witness present to humankind that Jesus our Lord and Saviour has Risen and is alive? What ‘proof’ can we give them? What deeds of love and compassion in the name of Jesus can we perform? We can start with truly loving our neighbour!
Wed. … Is Jesus the centre of our lives and of our worship, or is he just a ‘Sunday God’ whom we feel obliged to worship on Sundays? Who do we worship for the rest of the week? Who or what is the real object of honour taking first place in our lives? Do we have a ‘Domitian’ in our lives that is demanding to be our lord and our god? When we are threatened, what lessons for us do you see in the second reading, taken from the Book of Revelation? Are we worshipping the right king?
Thur. … On every Easter Sunday we are invited to review our ‘promises of holy baptism’ and renew our reception of the Holy Spirit. The ‘Risen Jesus’ makes it clear that we the baptised, are to go out and proclaim the ‘Good News’. Let us pray that during this week we will find ‘lost sheep’ and by the ‘Word’ lead them to the waiting arms of the ‘Good Shepherd’.
Frid. … Are we like the many “Doubting Thomas’s” who need irrefutable proof of a fact? John the apostle and evangelist invites us to be led to the proof: the Gospel. There is no other proof besides the Living Word. Pray and read the Gospel, believe and you will begin to understand. Don’t try to understand in order to believe, that won’t work. How does Thomas’s journey from doubter to believer reflect on your own experience?
Sat. … How strong is our faith? We have been given the Word of Christ, the Risen Lord and we are invited to follow him into a new and everlasting life of love, joy and happiness. Let us recall to mind the parable of the ‘Good Shepherd’: “My sheep know my voice. No seeing is required”. Are we among the blessed ones who have not seen but believe? Repeat in prayer the blessings that have come through your ‘believing’. Thank the Lord for the precious gift of faith.
Prayer after the Daily Reflection.
Father, help and guide and cherish this gift of faith that You have offered us. When we are tempted with doubt, we pray that Your Holy Spirit guide us through Your ‘Good News’ Gospel that we may firmly believe that there is no ‘Truth’ beyond the ‘Living Word’. Give us the wisdom to examine our lives to always ensure that we are witnesses to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ and that like Jesus we always put You first in our lives. By your grace and blessings may our faith develop from a Sunday commitment to a permanent part of our lives by serving our Lord and our neighbour at every opportunity we have.
This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives, and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.
Compliments: Bible Discussion Group. Our Lady of the Wayside, Maryvale.
“Discovering the Truth through God’s living Word”.