by Deacon Michael Bickerstaff | April 29, 2011 1:00 pm
Editor’s Note: Reflection on the Mass readings for the 2nd Sunday of Easter (Year A); Acts 2:42-47; Psalms 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24; I Pet 1:3-9; & John 20:19-31
The times we live in are certainly filled with challenges! Every once in a while – maybe even more than that, I find myself in need of reassurance. I am sure each of you would say the same thing. Sometimes, the cause of my distress might prove to be only a little thing, on other occasions, the trouble might be much greater. Sometimes, I don’t even realize just how great my need is for a simple word of encouragement. Life is like that.
The Apostles were no different from you and me in this regard. As we continue the celebration of this Easter season, I am discovering that it helps me face the challenges of my life when I learn from Scripture about the Apostles’ lives following the Crucifixion and Resurrection.
St. John’s Gospel has always been my favorite and in it are recorded three occasions where the Risen Lord appeared to His Apostles. In today’s Gospel, we hear of his appearance to the apostles in the cenacle in Jerusalem. He appears to them in that room, apparently entering through a locked and closed door. The first time, on that first Easter Sunday night, St. Thomas was absent; the second, a week later, Jesus came to that same room, this time with St. Thomas present as well. You know the story. In these first two appearances, Jesus gave them His peace, told them to not be afraid and told them to be prepared to preach the good news with zeal and courage.
You can imagine that the Apostles were in need of this encouragement, just like you and I are so often in need. Could the apostles dare to believe the incredible? Jesus knew that at this point in time, His apostles were frightened, confused and discouraged… and that they would need His grace to be effective witnesses. So He appeared to them in their midst. He invited them to come forward to touch His wounds and asked for something to eat. Essentially, He was saying to them, “Look, it is me in flesh and blood… believe, be at peace, prepare yourselves to go forth and be witnesses to my Resurrection.”
St. Thomas, who would not believe without seeing, said upon seeing Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” To which Jesus replied, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”
In Acts, we get a glimpse of the fervor with which the first Christians lived. They learned from the Apostles and witnessed with awe their work. They were truy Christ-centered. In the busy and hectic lives we lead, have we failed to keep Christ at our center? Is our faith just at the periphery of what we do and who we are? Or do we rejoice every day at how blessed in the Lord we are? We need to make sure that we and our family see Christ anew each day, thanking Him for all He has given.
Do we, who have not seen, believe? Do we truly understand how blessed we are if we do? Jesus calls us blessed. On those occasions when we are in our dark hours, hurting and confused, let us remember the words of Jesus. Go to the Lord in humility, trusting in Him. He tells us that He stands at the door. But unlike the Apostles, we need to let Him in. If we open the door, He will rush in and console and strengthen you. Let us receive His peace and be blessed. Let Him transform your life – now!
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