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2nd Sunday of Easter – Year B (April 15th) E-mail
Written by Nicholas King SJ   
Sunday, 18 March 2012 11:34

•    Acts 4: 32-35
•    Psalm 118: 2-4, 16-18, 22-24
•    1 John 5: 1-6
•    John 20: 19-31

What are the implications of Easter? That might be a question worth exploring as we start our celebration of this greatest feast of the Church’s year. Next Sunday is the second Sunday of Easter, and the readings, each in their different way, all address this question.

The first reading all the way through this season will come from Acts. Next Sunday’s excerpt is one of Luke’s “summaries”, whereby the evangelist paints a picture, with just a few effortless strokes of his brush, of what it was like to be a Christian in those heady days after the Resurrection. They were, it seems, “of one heart and one mind”. And they were communists: “no one said that any of their possessions was their own; they held all things in common”. And so “nobody was in need among them. For those who owned farms or houses, sold them and brought the proceeds of the sale and put them at the feet of the apostles; and it was distributed to each according as they had need.” Resurrection means, among other things, having the freedom not to cling on to material possessions. It means something else as well: “with great power, the apostles gave testimony to the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus – and great grace was on all of them”. That work of proclamation is our task, this Easter season.

The psalm for next Sunday does not sing, precisely, of Resurrection’s implications; but it certainly is a hymn to the God who alone make Resurrection possible: “let Israel say, his love is for ever; let the House of Aaron say, his love is for ever, let those who fear YHWH say, his love is for ever”. And our singer is in no doubt about God’s power: “YHWH’s right hand raises up, YHWH’s right hand does mighty deeds”; and this means life where there might have been death: “I shall not die, for I shall live”, he proclaims, “and I shall recount God’s deeds”. Then comes the line that Jesus would apply to himself: “the stone which the builders rejected became the head of the corner”, and, a refrain that we should hum to ourselves during these weeks, “this is the day that YHWH made, let us exult and rejoice in it”.

The second reading, all the way through this Easter season, will be from the first letter of John. The one word that holds this “letter” (not so much a letter, more a meditation) together is “love”. And “love”, we discover, is a matter of loving Jesus as Messiah, loving the Father who sent him, and (hardest of all?) loving those who are God’s children. This is quite an agenda for us to follow this Easter.

The Gospel for next Sunday is, as always on the second Sunday of Easter,  the story of Thomas digesting the implications of Resurrection. It starts in Thomas’ absence with the risen Jesus coming through the fearfully locked doors behind which the disciples hid, and wishing them “Peace” (another implication of Resurrection), while demonstrating that it is indeed him. Then they are commissioned, with the gift of the Holy Spirit, to forgive sins, and to hold sins fast. The second act is set a week later. The disciples, of course, have not failed to gloat over Thomas; and Thomas responds with a very crude demand for proof. He duly gets it, of course: “bring your finger here…bring your hand, and put it in my side”. Then comes the final instruction to Thomas, another implication for us of our Easter celebration: “do not be unbelieving, but a believer”. Going way beyond the evidence, Thomas now enters deeper into the mystery, deeper than any of the disciples have managed so far, ad takes us with him, as we hear him proclaim, “My Lord and my God”. For Thomas has seen the stunning implication, what Resurrection says about who Jesus is. And now he is gently chided (and we are praised) as Jesus says, “happy are those who have not seen, and have believed”. And the gospel ends with yet a further implication of Resurrection: “that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name”.