THIS SUNDAY’S OLD TESTAMENT EXTRACT [2 MACCABEES 7: 1 - 2. 9 - 14] is more easily understood if seen in direct relation to THIS SUNDAY’S GOSPEL [LUKE 20: 27...
Below appears a focus which is suggested we keep clearly in mind as we reflect on this Sunday’s scriptures. It was written by the late BASIL, CARDINAL, HUME (Archbishop of Westminster) and published in 2004 by Darton, Longman and Todd in a book entitled The Mystery of Love.
Hope is knowing that I have been forgiven, my guilt removed.
Hope is knowing that there is a future, life after death.
Hope is knowing that there is love, that there is a God,
and I am loved by him.
Whatever happens he does care.
Hope is knowing that he has plans,
even if I do not understand them.
Then, recall last week’s reflection and its emphasis on faith in the resurrection being firmly founded on our faith that Jesus
DIED, that we have forgiveness in his name and have been called to testify. Also, that Faith gives life to doctrine (not vice versa), and that we need to focus on what the Lord has proclaimed – not in periphery issues which tend to confuse the essentials.
Now, read again the quotation given above.
I do not hope to win the Lotto, I wish I would! I do not hope the sun will shine tomorrow, I wish it would. The Christian’s hope is based on certainties, the certainty of faith! Hope is not based on maybes, dreams or fantasies. The Lord’s resurrection is not a fantasy. It is a certainty – and this certainty is the foundation of all the hopes mentioned by Cardinal Hume. So, we are now able to understand the sentence in
TODAY’S PSALM [118 or 117]: “the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.”
It was this cornerstone which underpinned Luke’s entire description of that first Christian community as outlined in
TODAY’S FIRST SCRIPTURE [ACTS 2: 42 – 47]. Christian hope comes to us because of our RESURRECTION FAITH which empowers us to live as a real community of faith. It should influence the way we break bread together, become the magnet which leads others to hold us in favour, and enables the Lord to add to our numbers. In addition, “many signs and wonders” emerge naturally and routinely from the whole community. We should stop wishing for miracles and start making them happen. As Cardinal Hume reminds us – GOD HAS PLANS EVEN WHEN WE DO NOT UNDERSTAND THEM.
IN THIS SUNDAY’S SECOND READING [1 PETER 1: 3 – 9]
we are told that “we have been born anew to a living hope.” Saint Peter then tells us that this has happened (certainty!) “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Two matters emerge from these two texts. The first is the fact that our Easter rebirth adopts the essential element of a living hope. In other words our Christian hope must become, more and more, something which is ALIVE – which leads us to GROWTH. We should not, no matter how old in years and how limiting our physical condition may be, not have become, confine ourselves to uselessness and ineptitude. Life always contains the possibilities of growth. It is possible, for example, for the aged and enfeebled to grow as witnesses to peace and contentment, together with giving thanks for what we have achieved, and a generous willingness to give encouragement without bemoaning our perceived ‘fate’! The aged and / or enfeebled have much to offer provided they do not regress into self-pity.
Secondly, the resurrection of Jesus Christ should never be confined or limited to ‘life after death’. We are
NOT IN THE TOMB until we are physically placed there. Never act like a corpse if you are still breathing!
So we come to
THIS SUNDAY’S GOSPEL EXTRACT [JOHN 20: 19 – 31]. The verses bring our attention to the fact of “the doors being shut.” Why were the disciples behind closed doors? We are told the reason – “for fear of …” Yet, we are also informed that “Jesus came and stood among them.” Do not overlook the Lord’s greeting (in the atmosphere of fear): “Peace be with you.” The Risen Lord stands (lives) among us with our fears, troubles, difficulties, sufferings and doubts – and even if we have shut ourselves away behind closed doors.
I have always suspected that Thomas wanted to believe – his doubts were really fears! He had thrown down a challenge. It was a challenge Jesus accepted and responded to. Notice that Thomas did not take up the Lord’s invitation to put his hands in or to look at – the invitation was enough. His invitation should be enough for us as well.
Have you ever noticed how many challenges – sometimes even unconsciously – we throw down to the Lord? Have you ever noticed how we are blessed despite our doubts, fears and hesitations? “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” It is our belief that gives us life and hope.
“Believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.”