Second Sunday of Easter: Sunday of Divine Mercy - 11 April 2021
|(Mosaic by Fr Marko Rupnik, SJ)|
The readings that we have for our liturgies during the Easter Season are centred around the resurrection of Jesus which contain not only what the Risen Lord did to those fear-stricken disciples but also to those who were around them. The beginning chapters of the Acts of the Apostles are full of life and vigour. The resurrection of Jesus brings together all his 11 disciples under a specific community with a particular task: To proclaim the resurrection of the Lord.1. Resurrection is courage in place of fear
And the effects of the event of the Resurrection are experienced by those people who follow the apostles of Jesus and see in them a new energy flowing. And it is aptly demonstrated by today's reading. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, the disciples are sent out to take God’s peace or “shalom” to the world. Peter becomes a significant figure within the early Christian Community in imitating Christ. If Christ proclaimed his Father’s mission, now Peter the disciple of Jesus proclaims Christ. Because those who have seen the Son have seen the Father, those who saw Jesus, have seen God.
The healing power of Jesus manifests in Peter now, who is the leader of the group. Peter becomes the symbol of unity which Christ himself proclaimed: Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there; if you ask anything in my name it will be bestowed upon you; be united with me as I am with my Father. These words of his master become much more meaningful now, as the effect of Jesus’ name is felt. "The community of believers was of one heart and mind... and great favor was accorded them all" (Acts 4: 32-33).
2. Resurrection is sharing the experience
The resurrection of Jesus brings all the disciples under one roof and one mission, i.e., sharing the peace that they themselves have experienced. Resurrection is possible only when there is death. Without death, there is no resurrection. Resurrection brings a new vision and a new creation in the lives of the disciples. It is quite difficult to grasp exactly the meaning and sense of resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus does not mean that his dead body gets its life back like Lazarus or getting back to the former business, rather it is the transformation of the body of Jesus.
The resurrection of Jesus is an uncompromising experience where it is shared with all. It does remain in one’s heart or mind. However, it is shared. If this experience remains within you then it is not a resurrection. The resurrection is beyond space and time; it is beyond boundaries or limitations. It is a personal experience which is also an experience of the community. The resurrection narratives help us to understand to a large extent the meaning of resurrection.
3. Resurrection is communion
The resurrection of Jesus brought together the disciples. It bestowed on them an incredible amount of peace; any kind of torture, pain or suffering that they have to undergo or endure meant nothing at all in the future. The resurrection of Jesus, in other words, the experience of Jesus himself. The experience of Thomas helps us to understand still better the experience of the Risen Lord. He experienced Jesus so much that he even could put his hands into the wounds of Jesus.
Thomas the Apostle could participate very horrific experience of suffering and pain majestically. With the experience of Risen Jesus, Thomas finds new strength in Jesus. Venturing into any kind of painful experiences is no more fear but strength to proclaim Christ who was crucified. The Disciples of Christ are called to participate in the sufferings of Christ and not adding them.
The case of Thomas presents to us a lesson that there are people who believe in Christ without experiencing him totally and comprehensively. “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” The grace of the Risen Lord is always with us. Thomas is the one who went as far as India to preach the Gospel of Christ soon after his meeting with the Risen Lord. Even after the Resurrection of Jesus the cross never ceased to speak louder than before.
God’s love for humanity still continues to speak to us through the disciples of Jesus. [Thomas dies a martyr’s death at the hands of a Hindu ruler for objecting to his moral life.] Then the question today that we need to ask is, how we can experience the Risen Jesus. At Easter, we not only commemorate that event of Christ’s resurrection but also we try to experience the Risen Jesus. This herculean task is part of our everyday faith. In faith, hope and love we strive to experience the Risen Jesus.
4. Resurrection is being with and for others
One of the beautiful experiences of this week is our community outreach program of visiting the Asha Bhavan, a center for battered women and their children run by the Nuns of SCC congregation in a small town called Malur, just 45 kilometres from the city of Bangalore. The Sisters also run a mission hospital. Interacting with the Sisters and their collaborators and the inmates, what we gather is that many continue to live in endless passion week. Unfortunately, they happen to be women, children and widows. Physical, psychological and sexual abuse by the drunkard husbands, gang rapes by the inhuman men and the tale goes endlessly of these cruel, uncivil, evil and criminals in our society who continue to rob the dignity as a human person. The work done by the centers like Asha Bhavan is certainly a resurrection for many women and children as it gives them hope in times of despair, courage in times of fear, peace in times of distress.
We are all Christians because of the resurrection of Jesus. The resurrected Jesus continues to fill our void, emptiness, daily boredom and routine life, anxieties and fears, struggles and temptations. What we need is a faith that is convinced and content. We must believe so that our faith should move mountains as Jesus says.
Resurrected Jesus brings the disciples joy and serenity, happiness and hope. The disciples become builders of a community that shared the ideals of Jesus. On this Divine Mercy Sunday, we offer ourselves to God, so that we become a community of true harmony and peace where resurrected Jesus resides amidst us. Amen.