Some evenings ago I was awaiting the start of one of my very few favourite television programmes. An advertisement urging me to purchase a rather swanky car was being screened....
On this Second Sunday of Easter it would be profitable to remind ourselves that the Church spends a full eight weeks celebrating the Lord’s resurrection. Certainly we need time (and should make this time fruitful for ourselves) to take in the rich depths offered the believing Christian by the living truth of the fact that Jesus Christ, Lord and Saviour, is alive, well and powerfully active in our individual lives as well as in the life of the Church and our world.
“They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”
Last week attention was drawn to these words uttered by Mary Magdalene when she discovered the empty tomb. So let us start our reflection by asking two questions: (i) is the tomb really empty for me; and (ii) in what parts / areas of my life have I laid his dead body?
Come on, use your imagination! Unless I personally recognise and accept that his tomb
WAS empty (nothing there) there will be events, areas and situations in my faith-living where I am hiding his dead body. Why else is his living, resurrected, power not touching my willingness to know his active presence in areas of my life which actually need his healing and encouraging touch? I must bring this dead body, securely hidden away, to life.
Read carefully the closing stanza of the
RESPONSORIAL extract from TODAY’S PSALM [118 or 119]. We need to ensure that we are living realities of what we profess.
“The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. By the Lord has this been done, a marvel in our eyes. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice in it and be glad.”
The resurrected and living Lord has to be the cornerstone of each and every part of my living. If not, then I have failed to fully accept the Resurrection as a fact accomplished by my living God – and fail, in the present, to hold it as a marvel. In addition, I must accept it as a CORNERSTONE. In other words, I have to build around it. Not much good having the cornerstone firmly fixed in place unless a building goes up around it. It must always be in place so that it holds everything together.
FIRST READING [ACTS 2: 42 – 47] speaks of “many signs and wonders and signs” as well as the fact that “all who believed were together.” What exactly was it that all believed? What was the cornerstone that held them all together? The answer to these basic questions comes in one word –RESURRECTION. Everyone believed that the tomb was empty and there was no need to search for the place where the body had been laid. In addition, the many signs and wonders were the result of“the apostles’ teaching.” This teaching was the fact of resurrection backed by the constant teaching of the scriptures. The signs also began to emerge – “the breaking of the bread” as well as the call to be baptised (as evidenced in the earlier verse of the second chapter of ACTS) and the mission to forgive sins (as recorded in today’s Gospel extract).
The basic mission of the Church is outlined – the preaching and celebration of
WORD and SACRAMENT. This is what holds us all together – no more and no less. Programmes, systems, strategies and devotions all have a relative value but what remains all important are RESULTS – the results as outlined by today’s scripture readings. These results are given expression in our SECOND READING [1 PETER 1: 3 – 9] in that “we have been born anew to a living hope.” We must be both wary and ‘choosy’ of ‘importing’ activities which may well have an appeal in certain cultures and specific communities but which fail to be fully relevant to all who believe, and do not always bring about a general renewal of a living hope.
Take a careful, prayerful, look at
TODAY’S GOSPEL [JOHN 20: 19 – 31]. The disciples were gathered together behind closed doors because they were afraid. Were they still discussing where the body of Jesus had been laid? Suddenly“Jesus came and stood among them (and) he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.” They might have been glad but they remained afraid because the doors were shut when Jesus came to them again.
This time Thomas was with them but he had been sceptical of the others’ testimony. So, Jesus invited him to take a closer look. Yes, indeed, he was alive and well. The tomb
WAS empty, his body had not been stolen and hidden away. HERE HE WAS. He had risen from the dead as he had promised. “Do not be faithless, but believing.”
The disciples took a while to fully believe. Is it surprising that we need eight weeks to hold close the importance of the basics, and take a closer look?