Friday, 09 April 2021 15:09

2nd Sunday of Easter - Transforming fear

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2EBWeb400In the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, ‘Peace be with you,’ and showed them his hands and his side.

The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.’
As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.’
After saying this he breathed on them and said:
‘Receive the Holy Spirit.
For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven;
for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.’

Thomas, called the Twin, who was one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. When the disciples said, ‘We have seen the Lord’, he answered, ‘Unless I see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe.’

Eight days later the disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. The doors were closed but Jesus came in and stood among them. ‘Peace be with you,’ he said. Then he spoke to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it in my side. Doubt no longer but believe.’ Thomas replied, ‘My Lord and my God.’

Jesus said to him:
‘You believe because you can see me.
Happy are those who have not seen, yet they believe.’

There were many other signs that Jesus worked and the disciples saw, but they are not recorded in this book. These are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing this you may have life through his name. (John 20:19-31)

The great Easter feast of last Sunday began the Church’s fifty-day celebration of the Resurrection which concludes with the feast of Pentecost in six weeks.

The Gospel of each Sunday is a meditation on Jesus as: the resurrected Christ, made known in the scriptures and the breaking of the bread, the bearer of life in all its fullness, our way, truth and life, pledge of God’s love.

In today’s Gospel reading there are two stories of transformation through encounter with the risen Jesus.

Firstly, Jesus appears to a group of frightened and bewildered disciples hiding in a room. His first words are, ‘Peace be with you’. Fear and bewilderment turn into joy as the disciples recognise the presence of the Risen Jesus with them. But that’s not all. He then sends them out to be missionaries of peace and forgiveness. In receiving the Holy Spirit they are transformed from a group of frightened people, hiding in a room to bold proclaimers of God’s love and mercy.

We already know that fear breeds isolation and loneliness. We are living with that each day. While taking necessary steps to keep ourselves and each other safe, we are trying not to let our hearts go into lockdown, too. There is something inherently good in human nature. People have found new ways to care for each other. Like top class restaurants turning out hundreds of meals for poor, elderly or isolated people. There are many other examples of people transforming fear and bewilderment into moments of hope and joy. Do we not also recognise the presence of the risen Jesus in these saving actions?

The second story in today’s Gospel is the one we all know as doubting Thomas, though, really, it should be known as believing Thomas - doubt is only the beginning of the story.

Jesus doesn’t scold or rebuke Thomas. If Thomas is looking for proof, he has only to touch Jesus to see he is real. But Thomas doesn’t do that. It is his personal encounter with Jesus which transforms him from doubter to believer.

It is yet another Gospel reminder that faith is not about believing with our minds or looking for proof. It is found only in our living relationship with Jesus.

Perhaps these extraordinary days give us a bit more time just to sit and chat with Jesus, to recognise him already present in our hearts, to allow our fears and doubts to be overcome by love, to find new, creative ways of transforming the darkness of these days into light, peace and joy for others.

May the new life we celebrate over the next fifty days bring us the creativity of Spirit we need to be the living heart of God in our world today.

Download our Celebrating at Home Liturgy for this Sunday:

pdf Celebrating At Home Second Sunday of Easter [PDF] (249 KB)           
default Celebrating At Home Second Sunday of Easter [ePub] (789 KB)

 

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