2nd Sunday of Easter 2007 | Resurrection Of Jesus | Jesus

2nd Sunday of Easter 04-15-07 Scripture Readings First Acts 5: 12-16 Second Rev 1: 9-11,12-13,17-19 Gospel John 20:19-31 Prepared by: Father Stephen Dominic

Hayes, OP 1. Subject Matter

“The Gift of the Spirit”: The Gospel begins with Jesus appearing in the midst of his disciples in his glorified body. He wishes them peace, and shows them his wounded hands and side. He then breathes upon them the ”Gift of the Holy Spirit” for the forgiveness of sins. He who is risen from the dead now entrusts to his Church the key to unlocking death’s power; power to forgive sin, which is the root of death and death undying. One single Spirit animates both the risen Christ and the Easter ekklesia; the Spirit which gives life and glory to Jesus’ resurrected body likewise continually calls sinners back to life within the body of holy Church through the apostolic ministry Jesus established. “Thomas Sunday”: the Apostle Thomas, who was not present at the Easter appearance of our Lord today sees the resurrected Lord in his second Sunday of parents. He who began Easter in disbelief is done before the Lord the highest confession explicit confession of faith in this Gospel: “My Lord and My God.” He sees the glorified body of a man, but confesses in what cannot be seen with physical sight: the limitless God who can be beheld only with a believing heart. The disbelief of Thomas and Jesus’ relentless kindness towards him has become the fountain of our own belief. Blessed are we “who have not yet seen and have yet believed”. “Mercy Sunday”: the devotion first popularized by Sister Faustina and developed by Pope John Paul II becomes an occasion for us to meditate upon the mercy of Christ shown to Thomas in the Gospel. Jesus refuses to leave Thomas in disbelief and coldness of heart; and invites him to place his hand within the wound of his heart. Upon the Cross, water and blood flowed from the side of Christ, the emblems of Baptism and the holy Eucharist - the beginning and end of Christian life. Sister Faustina saw these in her vision as white and red rays of grace streaming from Jesus’ heart. The heart of Christ, wounded in life, remains open in his resurrected glory so as to be a perpetual fountain of grace and mercy towards those for whom he shed his blood upon the Cross. “ Jesus , I trust in you.” Christ is the hope of the human race, showing us in his glorified body what he hopes to accomplish in us by his grace, and our trust and connivance in it.

“Dominica in Albiis”: This Sunday has traditionally been important for those newly initiated last Sunday into the sacraments of eternal life. In ancient days they wore their baptismal robes throughout the week, laying them aside only after today's liturgy. The Easter event is something that begins in history, but has its origin in the eternal God and its purpose in welding our lives to God's own. The Easter event is never “over,” for it continues to break into the lives of the faithful every time they approach the divine and life-giving Eucharist. The very same Christ who appeared to Thomas today in the form of glorified humanity continues to make himself present and tangible under the near appearances of bread and wine each Sunday as Jesus, the risen Savior, calls his community together to renew the Easter event in his presence, to hear the Word of salvation and to feast upon the new Manna that nourishes us on the road to the heavenly Jerusalem. Easter is never over when he who is our Lord and our God yet stands in our midst.

2. Exegetical Notes

Acts 5: 12-16: The term “ekklesia” makes its first appearance, in connection the notion of reverential fear after the fashion that required of the assembly in Deuteronomy (Dt. 4:10). The worship of the assembly, summoned by Christ’s risen presents becomes characterized by the reverential awe proper to him who has become the new presence of God in the midst of his people, a reverence once due in Moses’ time to the manifestation God at the Tent of Meeting. Rev 1: 9-11,12-13,17-19: The book of Revelation opens in the midst of the visionary's Sunday worship; heaven and earth are united in the worship of the Christian assembly; and Christ shows himself to the prophet in a glorious manifestation and recalls his appearance to the original apostolic assembly of the first Easter. John 20:19: John demonstrates in the appearance in Easter the reality of the return of the Jesus on the disciples had known familiarly by their recognition of him. Although the spiritual qualities of Jesus’ glorified form are noted, the continuity of the relationship of that historical with the glorified Jesus is emphasized. John 20:21-22: John's Gospel is notable for its presentation of the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus as a continuum. Luke's Gospel presents the Pentecost as the definitive moment of the manifestation of the Holy Spirit, but John recalls the evening of Easter as the occasion on which the Lord, now glorified and ascending to his Father (19:17-18) imparts the life-giving Spirit he possesses to his Church. John presents the inner meaning in connection of the death and resurrection of Jesus as united to the gift of the Spirit who shows himself in the Pentecost, while Luke, emphasizing the historical order of events, presents them separated in time. John 20:23: The Church's power to forgive sins is presented as part of the reality of Easter; “the Church's tradition has rightly seen this as the origin of the sacrament of Penance”.(Vawter) John 20:24-29: The account of "doubting Thomas" is the climax of John's Gospel. John presents Christ as making his appearances on two consecutive Sunday, thus emphasizing the community's early practice of making this day the time for assembly and liturgy by the Church. Jesus appears to Thomas under the same circumstances as the appeared originally

to the Easter assembly. Jesus invites the doubter to touch his hands and his feet, and to place his hand in his open side, in accordance with Thomas’s words to the others.

John 20:28: “My Lord and my God!” The Gospel does not record whether not Thomas touched Jesus, as invited; he has in any case penetrated through to Jesus’ true identity, and makes the highest affirmation in the Gospel on this point, with absolute clarity: “kyrios theos”. This expression is not only the Septuagint translation of the name of the God of Israel (”Yahweh Elohim”), but is also a common divine name among pagan nations (Vawter.), Thomas sees the glorified body of Jesus with his eyes, but in his heart sees his Creator, and the God who rescued Israel from Egypt. John 20:29: Jesus calls “blessed those who have not seen yet have believed.” John briefly shifts focus from the narrative of the Easter event to connected it with the life of his own community. Thomas did not believe without the intervention of Christ in a physical appearance. By grace, those who hear the Gospel have the power to believe in what could Thomas could not. The witness of miracles, historical evidence, reasonable argument, and even a tangible manifestation such as Thomas was given by themselves do not create faith. Rather, the Word who took flesh, died, and rose on Easter is the same person who communicates his grace and Spirit when he is preached. However he manifests himself, it is in the Incarnate Word’s engagement with the individual heart that the issue of faith or disbelief is resolved.

3. References to the Catechism of the Catholic Church

CCC: 448: Very often in the Gospels people address Jesus as "Lord." This title testifies to the respect and trust of those who approach him for help and healing. At the prompting of the Holy Spirit, "Lord" expresses the recognition of the divine ministry of Jesus. In the encounter with the risen Jesus, this title becomes adoration: "My Lord and my God!" It thus takes on a connotation of love and affection that remains proper to the Christian tradition: "It is the Lord! " CCC 644: Even when faced with the reality of the risen Jesus the disciples are still doubtful, so impossible does the thing seem: they thought they were seeing a ghost.” “In their joy they were still disbelieving and still wondering.” (Lk 24:38-41) Thomas will also experience the test of doubt in St. Matthew relates that during the risen Lord's last appearance in Galilee “some doubted.” Therefore the hypothesis that the Resurrection was produced by the apostles’ faith (or credulity) will not hold up. On the contrary, their faith in the Resurrection was born, under the action of divine grace, from their direct experience of the reality of the risen Jesus. CCC 645: By means of touch and the sharing of a meal, the risen Jesus establishes direct contact with his disciples. He invites them in this way to recognize that he is not a ghost and above all to verify that the risen body in which he appears to them is the same body that had been tortured and crucified, for it still bears the traces of his passion. Yet at the same time this authentic, real body possesses the new properties of a glorious body: not limited by space and time but able to be present how and when he wills; for Christ’s humanity can no longer be confined to worth and belongs henceforth only to the Father’s divine realm. For this reason to the risen Jesus enjoys the sovereign freedom of appearing as he wishes: in

the guise of a gardener or in other forms familiar to his disciples, precisely to awaken their faith.

CCC 730: At last Jesus hour arrives: he commends his Spirit into the Father's hands at the very moment when by his death he conquers death, so that, "raised from the dead by the glory of the Father," he might immediately give the Holy Spirit by "breathing" on his disciples. From this hour onward, the mission of Christ and Spirit becomes the mission of the Church: "As the Father has sent me, even so I send you." CCC 1087: Thus the risen Christ, by giving the Holy Spirit to the apostles, entrusted to them his power of sanctifying: they became sacramental signs of Christ. By the power of the same Holy Spirit they entrusted this power to their successors. This "apostolic succession" structures the whole liturgical life of the Church and is itself sacramental, handed on by the sacrament of Holy Orders. CCC 1120: The ordained ministry or ministerial priesthood is at the service of the baptismal priesthood. You'd increase to guarantees that it really is Christ to ask in the sacraments of the Holy Spirit for the Church. The saving mission entrusted by the Father to his incarnate Son was committed to the apostles and through them to their successors: they receive the Spirit of Jesus to act in his name and in his person. The ordained minister is the sacramental bonds that ties the liturgical action to what the apostles said and did and, through them, to the words and actions of Christ, the source and foundation of the sacraments. CCC 1441: Only God forgive sins. Since he is the Son of God, Jesus says of himself, "the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins" and exercises this divine power: "Your sins are forgiven." Further, by virtue of his divine authority he gives his power to men to exercise in his name.

4. Patristic Commentary

St. Clement of Alexandria: He, then, that believes in the Divine Scriptures with firm judgment, receives, in the voice of God, who gave the Scriptures, an unquestionable proof. Nor by proof does faith become more firm. Blessed, therefore, are those who have not seen in yet have believed. (Stromateis, 2,2,9,6) St. Augustine of Hippo: This is the octave day of your new birth. Today is fulfilled in you the sign of faith that was prefigured in the Old Testament by the circumcision of the flesh on the eighth day after birth. When the Lord rose from the dead, he put off the mortality of the flesh; his risen body was still the same body, but it was no longer subject to death. By his resurrection he consecrated Sunday, or the Lord's day. Though the third after his passion, this day is the eighth day after the Sabbath, and thus also is the first day of the week. And so your own mobile resurrection, though not yet realized, is sure and certain, because you have received the sacrament or sign of this reality, and have been given the pledge of the Spirit. (Sermo 8 in octava Paschae 1,4.) St. Augustine of Hippo: This is praiseworthy faith indeed: when what is believed does not seen. For what great thing is it to believe what is seen, as is indicated by that statement of the Lord himself, when, reproving a disciple, he said: ” Because you have seen, you have believed: Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” (Homilies on John 79,1)

St. Augustine of Hippo: Why, then, should we not believe that the Holy Spirit proceeds also from the Son, when he is the Spirit also of the Son? For if the Holy Spirit did not proceed from him, when he showed himself to his disciples after his resurrection he would not have breathed on them, saying: "Receive the Holy Spirit". For what else did he signify by that breathing upon them, except that the Holy Spirit proceeds also from him? (Homilies on John 99,7) St. John Chrysostom: Great is the dignity of priests. "Whose sins you forgive," he says, "they are forgiven them." … The things that are placed in the hands of the priest, it belongs to God alone to give. … Neither angel nor archangel is able to do anything in respect to what is given by God: rather, Father, Son and Holy Spirit manage it all; but the priest lends his own tongue and presents his own hand. (On John 86,4) St. John Chrysostom: They who inhabit the earth, they who make their abode among man, are entrusted with the dispensation of the things of heaven! Priests have received by power which God has given neither to angels nor to archangels. … Temporal rulers have indeed the power of binding; but they can bind only the body. Priests, however, and buying with the bond which pertains to the soul itself, and transcends the very heavens. Whatever priests do here on earth, God will confirm in heaven, just as the master ratifies the decisions of his servants. Did he not give them all the powers of heaven? "Whose sins you shall forgive," he says, "they are forgiven them: whose sins you shall retain, they are retained." What greater power is there than this? The Father has given all judgment to the Son. In now I see the Son placing all this power in the hands of men. They are raised to this dignity as if they were already gathered up to heaven, elevated above human nature, and free of its limitations. (On the Priesthood, 3,5,182). Firmilian of Caesaraea (c. A.D 268): “ … in the Gospel, … Christ breathed upon the apostles alone, saying to them: “ Receive the Holy Spirit: if you forgive any man his sins, they shall be forgiven; and if you retain any man’s sins, they shall be retained." Therefore, the power of forgiving sins was given to the apostles into the churches which these men, sent by Christ, established; and to the bishops who succeeded them by being ordained in their place. (Letter to Cyprian 75,16)

5. Examples from the Saints and Other Exemplars

Saint Hippolytus of Rome: “(Father) … Pour forth now that power which comes from you, for you royal Spirit, which you gave to your beloved son Jesus Christ in which he bestowed upon his holy apostles, who established in every place the Church of your certification for the glory and unceasing praise of your name.” (The Apostolic Tradition 2) St. Thomas Aquinas: “God acts mercifully, not indeed by going against His justice, but by doing something more than justice; thus a man who pays another two hundred pieces of money, though owing him only one hundred, does nothing against justice, but acts liberally or mercifully. The case is the same with one who pardons an offence committed against him, for in remitting it he may be said to bestow a gift.” St. Catherine of Siena: You temper your justice with mercy. In mercy you cleansed us in the blood; in mercy you kept company with your creatures. O mad lover! It was not enough for you to take on our humanity: you had to die as well! Nor was death enough: You

descended to the depths to summon our holy ancestors and fulfill your truth and mercy in them. Your goodness promises good to those who serve you in truth, so you went to call these servants of yours from their suffering to reward them for their labours! I see your mercy pressing us to give you even more when you leave yourself with us as food to strengthen our weakness, so that we, forgetful fools should be ever reminded of your goodness. Every day you give us this food, showing us yourself in the sacrament of the altar within the mystic body of the Holy Church. And what has done this? Your mercy. ( The Dialogue 4,30)

St. John of the Cross: (For) it is more proper and habitual to God to communicate himself to the spirit, where there is more security and profit for the soul, than to sense, wherein there is ordinarily much danger and deception; for bodily sense judges and makes its estimate of spiritual things by thinking that they are as it feels them to be, whereas they are as different as is the body from the soul and sensuality from reason. For the bodily sense is ignorant of spiritual things as is a beast of rational things, and even more so. (Ascent of Mount Carmel II, XI, 2.) St. Thomas More: “Since God displayed His great mercy in so many ways even toward Judas, an apostle turned traitor, since He invited him so often to be forgiven and did not allow him to perish except through despair alone, surely there is no cause for anyone in this life to despair even if an imitator of Judas.” St. John Vianney : “Our sins are nothing but a grain of sand alongside the great mountain of the mercy of God.” St. Francis de Sales: “Where is the foolish person who would think it in his power to commit a sin more than God could forgive.” Blessed Faustina: "In the evening, when I was in my cell, I became aware of the Lord Jesus clothed in a white garment. One hand was raised in blessing, the other was touching the garment at the breast. From the opening of the garment at the breast there came forth two large rays, one red and the other pale. In silence I gazed intently at the Lord; my soul was overwhelmed with fear, but also with great joy. After a while Jesus said to me, 'paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the inscription: Jesus, I trust in You.'"… "The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous; the red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls. These two rays issued forth from the depths of My most tender Mercy at that time when My agonizing Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross. ... Fortunate is the one who will dwell in their shelter, for the just hand of God shall not lay hold of him." (Letter of Blessed Faustina, 1931.) Benedict XVI: Jesus has now become the one who is exalted at the Father assigned and accessible to every human being. Consequently, the paradox: Here on Earth, in a mere earthly kind of closeness, he is no longer touchable; but he can be touched as the risen Lord! It is possible not to touched Jesus by seeking about the Father side and along him to draw us after him on his journey. To touch his to worship, and brings with it a mission. That is why Thomas may touch him: the presentation of Jesus’ wounds to Thomas is meant not to cause the passion to be forgotten but, on the contrary, to make it unforgettable. (Dogma and Preaching) Benedict XVI: Consequently, too, Thomas’ touching turns into an active worship: “My Lord and my God!” ( John 20:28). The entire Gospel has been leading up to this moment in which

• • •


the touching a Jesus, the touching of the mortal wounds of him whom the powers of this world had crushed, becomes a recognition of God's glory. Now that he has passed through death, Jesus belongs to all human beings. We can touching only by entering upon his way, only by ascending with him and, in union with the father in the son, belonging to all. It can to hold on to him is replaced by a mission: "Go to my brethren" (Jn 20:17). (Dogma and Preaching)

Benedict XVI: The Risen One cannot be seen like a piece of wood or stone. He can only be seen by the person to whom he reveals himself. And he only reveals himself to the one whom he can entrust with a mission. He does not reveal himself to curiosity but to love; love is the indispensable organ if we are to see and apprehend him. This does not mean, however, that the person addressed by the Lord has to be a believer already. Paul was not, nor was Thomas, nor were the Eleven either, for they too were submerged in doubt and sorrow. … It was not a prior faith that created a resurrection vision: rather it is the reality of the Risen One that creates faith where there was only disbelief or a cramped and grudging faith. (Seek That Which Is Above) Pope John Paul II: In the humiliated and suffering Christ, believers and non-believers can admire a surprising solidarity, which binds Him to our human condition beyond all imaginable measure. The Cross, even after the Resurrection of the Son of God, "speaks and never ceases to speak of God the Father, who is absolutely faithful to His eternal love for man. ... Believing in this love means believing in mercy" (Rich in Mercy, 7). Let us thank the Lord for His love, which is stronger than death and sin. It is revealed and put into practice as mercy in our daily lives, and prompts every person in turn to have "mercy" towards the Crucified One. Is not loving God and loving one's neighbor and even one's "enemies," after Jesus' example, the program of life of every baptized person and of the whole Church? ( Homily on the universal proclamation of Mercy Sunday, 2001) Pope John Paul II: “Conversion to God always consists in discovering His mercy, that is, in discovering that love which is patient and kind as only the Creator and Father can be; the love to which the 'God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ' is faithful to the uttermost consequences in the history of His covenant with man; even to the cross and to the death and resurrection of the Son. Conversion to God is always the fruit of the rediscovery of this Father, who is rich in mercy.” Pope John Paul II: Here is the Son of God, who in His resurrection experienced in a radical way mercy shown to Himself, that is to say the love of the Father which is more powerful than death. And it is also the same Christ, the Son of God, who at the end of His messianic mission - and, in a certain sense, even beyond the end - reveals Himself as the inexhaustible source of mercy, of the same love that, in a subsequent perspective of the history of salvation in the Church, is to be everlastingly confirmed as more powerful than sin. The paschal Christ is the definitive incarnation of mercy, its living sign in salvation history and in eschatology. In the same spirit, the liturgy of Eastertide places on our lips the words of the Psalm: “Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo. “ ( Dives In Misericordia, 8.)

7. Other Considerations

Thomas skepticism is not entirely a bad thing, especially for us who follow him and base our faith upon his witness. The Lord had, after all, prophesied the coming of false Christs and pretenders, and warned his against them (Matt 24:23-27). His skepticism and insistence on proof makes very clear the witness he gives in the Gospel to the truth of Jesus’ resurrection. A peculiarity about the Resurrection narratives in the Gospels: none recounts and encounter between Jesus’ mother and the risen Lord. Luke places her carefully at the Pentecost, and John reports that she stands beneath the Cross; no place in the texts is there an account of an Easter meeting with Our Lady. On the one hand and, since all resurrection appearances are to those who need their faith strengthened, Mary's absence indicates the strengthened purity of her faith. On the other hand, in John's Gospel, she stands beneath the Cross to receive the Spirit which Jesus “hands over” in 19:30 on the one hand to his Father, and on the other hand to the small community of love that he has formed at the foot of the Cross in 20: 26-27. She who represents the Church in perfection receives the Easter Spirit even before the apostles; this perfect unity of hearts in faith and love makes an Easter appearance perhaps unnecessary. Jesus reproves Thomas for needing to see before he believed; In Revelations, John believes, and in the midst of his Sunday worship is taken up in ecstasy to see the glorious and risen Christ. Blessed of a who have not seen and have yet believed; this word of the Lord comes true fully for John, who by faith sees Christ with his heart.

Recommended Resources Brown, Raymond E., S.S., Fitzmeyer, Joseph, S.J., and Murphy, Roland E., O. Carm. The Jerome Biblical Commentary. Two Vols. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968. Jurgens, William A. The Faith of the Early Fathers. 3 Vols. Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1979. Thomas Aquinas, St. Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels Collected out of the Works of the Fathers.. Albany, N.Y.: Preserving Christian Publications, Inc., 2001. Cameron, Peter John, O.P., ed. Benedictus: Day by Day with Pope Benedict XVI. Yonkers, NY: Magnificat/Ignatius Press, 2006.

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