2nd Sunday of Easter
1 Peter 1:3-9
(The Octave of Easter Sunday is also known as Albis ('white') Sunday because the newly baptized are 'clean of sin' and it's also known as Divine Mercy Sunday. Easter Time thereafter has 7 weeks).
The Gospel this weekend is this:
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you." 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 (Jesus) said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the holy Spirit.
23 Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained." 24 Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples said to him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe." 26 Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, "Peace be with you." 27 Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe." 28 Thomas answered and said to him, "My Lord and my God!" 29 Jesus said to him, "Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed." 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of (his) disciples that are not written in this book. 31 But these are written that you may (come to) believe
that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.
The first reading is this:
42 They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers. 43 Awe came upon everyone, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45 they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one's need. 46 Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes. They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart, 47 praising God and enjoying favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
The second reading is this:
1 Peter 1:3-9
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you 5 who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith, to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time. 6 In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, 7 so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Although you have not seen him you love him; even though you do not see him now yet believe in him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, 9 as you attain the goal of (your) faith, the salvation of your souls.
Something really strange happened two thousand years ago: in spite of problems and persecutions, a Christian community arose in Israel that lived in tremendous peace. They must have had some kind of experience of Jesus resurrected - and He gets to the point in the Gospel today: "Peace be with you!” I'm in an M.S. mess, but that can't take away the peace of Christ. It's not a question of some supernatural vision, but of a love that seduces - and lasts beyond death. And it's not a knowledge to be acquired by us ourselves, but a gift to be received. In that sense, Jesus prefers to breathe the Spirit upon the Apostles, rather than physically showing the nail marks to doubting Thomas. Are you open to the faith and also putting effort into nourishing it? Will we allow the Holy Spirit to move our hearts? Maybe I'm a little strange – I’m glad to be! "Blessed are those who've not seen, and yet believe". I'm trying to love well, but I find it hard to keep these Easter e-mails short!
The vision of faith is a gift, but step one is for us to humbly long for it and search for it meditating the Word. That's where the role of 'community' comes in (first reading today) - we don't seek alone but along with many brothers and sisters, saints and sinners. Talk of the fervent activity of getting a Christian community up and running may seem strange coming from a semi-paralytic in a wheelchair, but there's the whole point: we all go together and each one of us has some part to play! The Church forms the mystical Body of Christ, and each of us is a part of that. From the beginning, the Church wasn't keen on the style of 'hermits'. God wants us to live as a community. We're created in his image and likeness and the Trinity is family!
One of the huge differences between the Bible and ancient fables and myths, is how the Bible links people. From Adam and Eve on, God is linking people. He doesn't say "I will create man in my image", He says "let us create man in our image" (Gen 1:26). That's plural (as is The Trinity). We're called to participate in Christ - in his mystical body, and that means participating in the whole family of our Trinitarian God. It’s actually very relevant that the healing of the faith of doubting Thomas is linked with the communitarian nature of the disciples. He has a personal experience of the risen Jesus but that experience occurs in the midst of a gathering of the group. They were behind closed doors for fear of those that had crucified Jesus, and yet they weren’t scattered around in private, which would have been a more logical way of ‘hiding’.
Living in Christ involves participating with love in the Church! I like the story of a monastery where the 'prior' told the group of monks one day that he had received some amazing news: that Jesus Christ himself was actually among them as a fellow monk in disguise. From then on they all started being really friendly to each other! Well the presence of Christ is precisely the 'Good News' (Gospel) of our faith and our being Church with Him.
Our 'Verbum Dei' community has male and female branches and the way God wants us to love isn't by looking at each other but simply by looking in the same direction. Some used to ask our founder “But do you think that women will speak up?” and he used to reply jokingly: “But do you think that women would stay quiet?"! It's relevant that Peter plus 'the disciple Jesus loved' plus Mary of Magdala were there to welcome the risen Christ on Easter morning. Living as a 'community' isn't a difficult task that God asks us to 'endure', but rather it's a gift which helps us. Our life is for loving and no-one loves 'alone'! We all love God but God is in his people. M.S. hinders my physical eyesight, but a worse defect would be if I didn't see Christ and respect Him in my brother and my sister. The community is formed of distinct individuals and the individuality of each is respected and admired with the
knowledge that it's the same Lord acting in each member of his body.
We all have the same mother Mary, who started our "yes". Bethlehem came nine months later. She nourished the child. She stood with firm faith onCalvary. She rejoiced with the Community after his Resurrection. And now she's trying to nourish us all. So let's eat up!
2º Domingo de Pascua:
Algo muy extraño pasó hace dos mil años: a pesar de los problemas y persecuciones, una comunidad cristiana surgió en Israel que vivió en paz tremenda. Deben de haber tenido alguna buena experiencia de Jesús resucitado - y Él lo dice en el Evangelio hoy: “¡La Paz esté con vosotros!”.
Tengo el lío de la esclerosis múltiple, pero eso no me quita la paz de Cristo. No es cuestión de alguna visión sobrenatural, sino de un amor que seduce – y es más fuerte que la muerte. En este sentido, le gusta a Jesús soplar el Espíritu sobre los Apóstoles más que mostrarle a Tomás, el incrédulo, los agujeros hechos por los clavos. ¿Dejaremos al Espíritu Santo mover nuestros corazones? ¿Estás tu abierto a la fe y también pones esfuerzo en nutrirla? Y la fe no es algo que podemos conseguir por nosotros mismos, sino que es un regalo a acoger. Quizá soy un poco extraño (¡espero que sí!): “Bendito es aquél que no ha visto, y sin embargo cree”. ¡Quiero amar bien, pero no es fácil no enrollarme en estos e-mails de Pascua!
La visión de fe es un regalo, pero nos toca a nosotros mismos anhelarla humildemente y buscarla meditando la Palabra. Para esto ayuda el vivir en comunidad (como dice la primera lectura de hoy). No buscamos aislados sino juntos con muchos hermanos y hermanas, santos y pecadores. Hablar de la actividad ferviente de crear una comunidad cristiana en marcha, puede parecer extraño en la meditación de este enfermo en silla de ruedas, pero esta es la cosa: ¡vamos todos juntos y cada uno tiene algún papel! La Iglesia forma el Cuerpo místico de Cristo, y cada uno forma parte de él. Desde el principio, no le ha gustado a la Iglesia el estilo de ‘ermitaños’. Dios quiere que vivamos como una comunidad. ¡Nos crearon a su imagen y semejanza y la Trinidad es familia!
Una de las diferencias grandes entre la Biblia y las fábulas y mitos antiguos, es en cómo la Biblia une a las personas. Desde Adán y Eva, Dios está uniendo a las personas. No dice “crearé al hombre a mi imagen” sino “Hagamos al hombre a nuestra imagen”. Esto es plural (como es la Trinidad). Estamos llamados a participar en Cristo - en su Cuerpo Místico, y eso significa participar en la familia entera de nuestro Dios Trinitario. De hecho es muy relevante que la curación de las dudas de Tomas es vinculada con el hecho de que estaban los discípulos reunidos en común. El tiene experiencia personal del Señor resucitado pero tal experiencia ocurre en una reunión del grupo. Estaban las puertas cerradas porque tenían miedo de los que habían crucificado a Jesús, sin embargo no estaban repartidos en privado, que hubiera sido una forma más lógica de ‘esconder’.
¡Vivir en Cristo involucra participar amorosamente en la Iglesia! Me gusta la historia de un monasterio dónde el superior dijo un día al grupo de monjes, que había recibido una noticia asombrosa: que Jesucristo realmente estaba entre ellos fingiendo ser un monje compañero. ¡Desde aquel momento empezaron a estar muy amistosos uno con el otro! Pues, la presencia de Cristo es precisamente la Buena Nueva (el Evangelio) de nuestra fe y nuestra Iglesia es su Cuerpo Místico.
Nuestra comunidad Verbum Dei tiene una rama masculina y otra femenina, y Dios quiere que amemos no mirándonos uno al otro, sino mirando en la misma dirección. Algunos le preguntaban a nuestro fundador “¿Pero usted piensa que las mujeres hablarán? y él contestaba graciosamente: “¿Pero usted piensa que las mujeres se quedarían calladas?”. Es relevante que fue Pedro y ‘el discípulo que Jesús amaba’ además de María Magdalena los que descubrieron a Jesús resucitado por la mañanita de Pascua. Vivir ‘en comunidad’ no es una tarea difícil que Dios nos pide aguantar, sino es un regalo que nos ayuda. Nuestra vida es para amar ¡y nadie ama ‘a solas’! Queremos todos amar a Dios mismo pero Dios está en sus hijos. La esclerosis impide mi visión física, pero un defecto peor sería si no viera a Cristo y le respetara en mi hermano y mi hermana. La comunidad se forma de individuos distintos y la individualidad de cada uno es respetada y admirada, pero creemos que es el mismo Señor el que está intentando actuar en cada miembro de su cuerpo.
Tenemos todos la misma madre María que empezó nuestro “sí”. Belén vino nueve meses después. Ella nutrió al niño. Ella estaba de pie con fe firme en el Calvario. Ella se regocijó con la Comunidad después de la Resurrección de Jesús. Y ahora ella está intentando nutrirnos a todos. ¡Entonces comamos bien!
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