Sunday readings in brief 2 Easter A
Acts 2:42-47; Psalm 117(118); 1 Peter 1:3-9; Jn 20:19-31
The Easter Community
Dear friends, today is the second Sunday of Easter that also celebrates the ‘Divine Mercy Sunday’, which concludes the Easter Octave. The feast reminds us of the bitter passion that Christ willingly submitted to for the salvation of the world. No one should perish anymore but all should come to him and be saved.
The readings today focus on the first community of believers. A community is a group of people who live in the same space and share the same norms, religion, values, customs, and identity. The Christian community revolves around the teachings of Christ Jesus the son of God and the savior who gave his life for humanity. It is in every human person, by nature, to seek to commune. How and with whom may differ depending on interests, but the underlying fact is that God created human beings with an innate thirst to belong to a community. Today we have faith communities, intellectual communities, professional communities, business communities (ecosystems), etc.
In the first reading, we hear about how the first believers conducted themselves in the spirit of faith. Through the instruction of faith and baptism in the risen Christ, the first believers formed their own community different from the Jewish communities. They adopted a way of life based on the teachings of Jesus: remaining together – “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (Jn 15:7). Breaking the bread and prayers – “Do this in remembrance of me” (Lk 22:19). They had everything in common – “Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 15:12). They met in their houses for the breaking of the bread, and shared their food generously.
This is an example of a Christian community that ought to exist even today. It is in the same spirit that the AMECEA bishops established Small Christian Communities in the 1960s. However, we seem to have completely different versions of the Christian community today. All spiritual and material help of a Christian is supposed to emanate from a Christian community. There are no private Christians. However, today we have many baptized who do not go to Church or for Christian community activities. Instead, people have formed, Saving and Credit Cooperative Organizations (SACCOS), to replace SCC, because they know they cannot succeed by themselves. SACCOS notwithstanding, Christian communities can have similar functions with even better outcomes because the spirit of goodwill, charity, and trust is presumed.
In the second reading, St. Peter reminds the community of believers that their faith must be tested with tribulations but the reward will be glory and honor in Christ Jesus. Many modern-day prophets have innovated and now come with custom-made faith packages. Many promote a “freelancer” kind of faith where the believer does not need any community but the prophet’s contact number and bank account number. In return, he or she is promised a life with zero tribulations. Unfortunately, many are falling for this because they do not want to struggle only to realize that they have been duped.
In the Gospel reading, the risen Lord appears again to his disciples in his now glorified body that is beyond the constraints of space and time. He gives them a share in his own mission that the Father had entrusted to him – “As my father sent me, so am I sending you” (Jn 20:21). He also breathes on them the Holy Spirit who will henceforth sustain his presence in them. With this, they received the authority to forgive sins (the sacrament of reconciliation given to a priest who is in persona Christi). Thomas’s unbelief when his brothers told him that they had seen the Lord, speaks to us about the urge for wonders many people have even today. With the help of the modern-day prophets, believing is no longer a matter of faith but sensational theatrics. Everyone is looking for extra-terrestrial manifestations and eye-marveling works, commonly referred to as miracles. These are meant to attract as many clients as possible, for revenue collection. It is just another business model.
Faith was the prerequisite for the miracles that Jesus performed. And Jesus said to the blind men, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to Him, “Yes, Lord” (Mt 9:28). If Jesus wanted to be popular, he would have presented himself to the Jews at the city square and in the synagogues. Instead, he entrusted the difficult task to announce the good news of his resurrection to his own, who had walked with him all the way. He strengthens their faith and promises to be with them always in this difficult and risky task.
Dear friends, many would like to change the world overnight and make everything in their own image and likeness, but this is only a fantasy. If we want to change the world, first we need to change our individual attitude about change itself and from there begin with changing our own world. I invite us to reflect upon our adherence to the faith communities that we belong to. As we promote Divine Mercy, we must remember that each one of us is supposed to be the instrument of that mercy and not the placards, brochures, and postings that we make.
Have a blessed Sunday
Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD
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