Second Sunday of Easter (B)


2nd SUNDAY OF EASTER (B) John 20: 19-31 - April 08, 2018

Jesus said to them ´Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I send you. Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained´

The same day of his resurrection, “On the evening of that first day of the week” the first greeting in the encounter of Jesus with his confused and frightened disciples, surprising as it might be is, “Peace be with you.” He finds them in hiding, after the terrible death of their Master. What else a person needs at a time of tragedy and lost that the presence of Jesus telling us with that short greeting which means “do not be afraid, don´t worry, relax, don´t be anxious, you have nothing to fear.” This is what peace means in a regular relation, but spoken by the Risen Christ it means much more than a wish. Jesus is there not just to tell them, relax, but to give them the gift of his presence; “I am with you and will always be, trust me”.

Right after showing his disciples by words and gestures that he was alive, Jesus gives to them the Holy Spirit and the ministry to forgive sins, “´As the Father has sent me, so I send you.´ And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ´Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them and whose sins you retain are retained.´”

Jesus is our resurrection and our life, and the opposite of that life is sin, the origin of death; therefore, after restoring our life, Jesus gives us, the Church, the remedy of sin, forgiveness. The first three gifts the Risen Lord gives us on that first day of the week are his peace, his Holy Spirit, and his forgiveness.

The apostle Thomas was not with the others when Jesus suddenly came and gave them the Holy Spirit; it is why he could not trust the good news about Jesus´ resurrection that the other disciples shared with him. But a week later, when Jesus came back, the eyes of Thomas´ faith were opened and he recognized Jesus as the center of his life. We should not deny the witness of others. The testimony of our Christian community is important, but in our process of faith and conversion, nothing is more important than a personal encounter with the Lord.

The Gospels tell us Thomas was called the twin. We do not know who his twin was. Probably each one of us is Thomas´ twin, firstly because we are often beset by doubts in our faith as that apostle did, secondly because we have to learn from his extraordinary profession of faith and recognize Jesus as “My Lord and my God.” In our ordinary life we are a combination of unbelief and trust. Hopefully we decide to be a believer and remain as faithful apostles as Thomas did.

Most important is the trust in the Lord, but also trust other members in our faith community. Trust is a gift of Jesus´ Spirit and we must appreciate this gift. But also a special gift of the Spirit is to forgive others. Forgiveness is a gift Jesus gives to us at his resurrection. It is not healthy to live a life holding grudges or feeding bad memories. When we let go of these burdens we will live the joy and freedom the Risen Lord gives us with his peace.

Once, a family told me that their mother was seriously ill with cancer. The children together with their father prayed very hard for a cure. But the mother actually got worse and eventually died. Despite this tragedy they felt that their prayers had been answered by God because their mother had died peacefully and they knew she was in God´ hands. This sad experience strengthened the family faith and they felt closer to each other. Thomas first asked for a proof, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in Jesus´ hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side I will not believe.” But when Christ appeared to him that was enough, he never reached his hand out to actually touch the wounds. He did not need to.

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