The Bishops Homily – Second Sunday Of Easter 2017

Second Sunday Of Easter
Acts 2: 42-47
I Pet. 1: 3-9
Jn. 20: 19-31

INTRODUCTION: It is now Easter Season. We meditate on the Resurrection stories which are really about the ways the Risen Jesus interacts with his Church, even up to now. These are all our stories. Let us learn to enter into the dynamics of these stories. Our story today is from John’s Gospel who manages, wherever he can, to connect his good news to Genesis.

(1) The Circumstances of the Story: “In the evening of that same day (Resurrection Sunday), first day of the week” reminds us of the beginning (beresith) of human beings in Genesis, now re-created by Jesus’ Resurrection. The disciples did not understand the meaning of this novelty because they were “in fear of death”: the same fate might happen to them as to their Master. That the fear of death broods over them in the Upper Room is evocative of all of us Christians, hemmed in by our fear of death and locked in by our ego.”

“Jesus came and stood among them” in spite of locked doors implies the Risen Christ’s embodied presence but in a new level of existence beyond the limitation of space, time, and death. Benedict XVI calls the Resurrection a “great evolutionary leap forward” of the Church toward a new pitch of perfection. Easter is the presence of the Risen Christ among us.

(2) The Word of Life (Jesus): “Peace be with you,” Shalom/Peace that God wants to give us which the world cannot give. Why? Because Peace is passing and evanescent. Peace is a pause between conflicts. Jesus gives peace beyond the fear of death by which the saints lived because their peace comes from the conquest of the fear of death.

Why this show of his wounds? To show the reality that one does not attain peace by going around death or pain but by going through them. Also, his wounds are also a manifestation of the sin of the world. In the words of Peter: “God came among us and we killed him.” His wounds are signs of our dysfunctions and that all is not ok with us.

“As the Father sent me, so I send you.” No one is ever given a vision or an experience of God without being given a mission. God sent his Son on a mission of love and so all followers of the Son are being commissioned to be bearers of the Divine Life to the world. This is the Universal Call to Holiness. You become holy in the measure you find your mission.

“. . . He breathed on them and said ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’ “ The Life/Love, breathed in and out between the Father and the Son, is the Holy Spirit. Every time you receive the sacraments of the Church, you receive the Divine Life. For what Christ gives is a share in that Divine Life which we lost in sin. That is why the power to forgive sin is given to the Church.

(3) Application Story: The Doubting Thomas – “Unless I see the holes . . . and put my finger into the hole… Unless I put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe!” A repeat of the sin of Adam and Eve here again by Thomas! What was their original/fundamental sin but an act of grasping, seizing, possessing instead of mere receiving and accepting the gift of Christ’s presence. But Thomas was outside the Apostolic Band when this happened. Outside the Church, Thomas did not see clearly! A week later Thomas was inside the Apostolic Band, with Jesus now he sees clearly and gives a most impressive act of faith in the whole Bible: “My Lord and My God!” In the end Thomas was called “Blessed!” by the Lord. Why? Because he did not manipulate God to grasp in his hands and in his mind but simply accepted what in fact was there already Jesus Alive!

CONCLUSION: Does the story of Thomas or any of the words of the Risen Jesus ring a bell in your experience? Share it!

Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, DD
Bishop of Novaliches