BY OUR FAITH IN THE SAVING EFFECT OF CHRIST’S DEATH AND RESURRECTION WE ARE MADE CHILDREN OF GOD
(A biblical refection on THE SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER [YEAR A] – 19 April 2020)
[SUNDAY OF DIVINE MERCY]
Gospel Reading: John 20:19-31
First Reading: Acts 24:42-47; Psalms: Psalm 118:2-4,13-15,22-24; Second Reading: 1Peter 1:3-9
The Scripture Text
On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any they are retained.”
Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But He said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in His side, I will not believe.”
Eight days later, His disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you.” Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see My hands; and put out your hand, and place it in My side; do not be faithless, but believing.” Thomas answered Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen Me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:19-31 RSV)
At the Last Supper, Christ had said to the Apostles: “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. …… So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (John 16:20, 21). And in today’s Gospel we can see how Christ kept His promise, “Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord” (John 20:20). …… They were filled with joy!
For us also, Jesus must be, not a figure in a book, not a memory from the past, but rather a living presence, one who is with us, here and now. To those who, like Thomas, would argue that this is making too great a demand on our credulity, Christ replies, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed” (John 20:29). Because, as St. Augustine pointed out, “Faith is to believe, on the word of God, what we do not see.” It is like taking a step in the dark while trusting absolutely in what God is promising to us as the consequence.
The resurrection of Christ was a unique happening that lies beyond all human reasoning or understanding. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. …… By faith we understand that the world was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made out of things which do not appear” (Hebrews 11:1,3). The first chapter of the Bible tells us that the universe began in a single flashing act of creation, when God willed all things into being, out of nothing.
The resurrection of Christ, of which we are celebrating the octave, is a mystery also. The risen glorified body of the Lord is a new creation. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord. Faith, joy – a faith which leads to and is the cause of joy – that is the message for us today. But there is more. For in our following of Christ, even though we have not as yet passed through the portals of death, we also can become part of this new creation initiated by Christ. We might even begin to speak of a third creation, for by our faith in the saving effect of Christ’s death and resurrection we are made children of God Himself. We are no longer slaves, but friends, and so on this day we should ask that we may receive and our joy, like that of the Apostles may be full (John 16:24)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, pour the living water of the Holy Spirit over my heart, so that I may bear fruit for You. Come, Holy Spirit, and reveal Jesus to my heart today. Let me know the Lord and the power of His resurrection. I want to become a new creation today. Amen.
Jakarta, 18 April 2020 [EASTER OCTAVE: SATURDAY]
A Christian Pilgrim