Second Sunday of Easter

Central idea: Christ’s Resurrection and the promise of our own. Doctrine: Our new birth in the Resurrection of Christ. Practical application: Cooperation in growing in the new life Christ offers us.

To view Lectionary 44, click here.

Central idea: Christ’s Resurrection and the promise of our own

Reading 1Acts 4:32-35

The community of believers was of one heart and mind,
and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own,
but they had everything in common.
With great power the apostles bore witness
to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus,
and great favor was accorded them all.
There was no needy person among them,
for those who owned property or houses would sell them,
bring the proceeds of the sale,
and put them at the feet of the apostles,
and they were distributed to each according to need.

  • The primitive Church lived a great holiday or jubilee because her members had personally witnessed the Resurrected Christ.
  • Filled with the Holy Spirit, the apostles were on fire proclaiming the Gospel, proved true by Christ’s Resurrection.
  • We also see the beginnings of the religious life in community, of living in a state of owning nothing, holding all things in common.
  • Eventually, the majority of followers of Christ would need to continue their ordinary lives of working, producing, and saving so they could support themselves, their families, their pastors, and charitable works.
  • Each follower of Christ can still retain the attitude of the first Christians and not claim “that any of his possessions” are “his own.” He is a steward of his time, talent, and treasure, which are gifts of God and to be used for good.

Psalm Ps 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24

R. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, his love is everlasting or Alleluia.

Let the house of Israel say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
Let the house of Aaron say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
Let those who fear the LORD say,
“His mercy endures forever.”

I was hard pressed and was falling,
but the LORD helped me.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
The joyful shout of victory
in the tents of the just:

The stone which the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
By the LORD has this been done;
it is wonderful in our eyes.
This is the day the LORD has made;
let us be glad and rejoice in it.

  • God’s greatest act of mercy is to bring us into being.
  • His second greatest act of mercy, impossible without the first, is to redeem us from sin and death and then to begin the process by which he divinizes us.
    • As St. Athanasius puts it, “[God] gave himself to us through his Spirit. By the participation of the Spirit, we become communicants in the divine nature. . . . For this reason, those in whom the Spirit dwells are divinized.” (Quoted in CCC 1988)
  • The LORD restores us and elevates us through an act of mercy in which he, the hero, is rejected by and at the mercy of those who thought he was their enemy.

Reading 2 1 Jn 5:1-6

Beloved:
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God,
and everyone who loves the Father
loves also the one begotten by him.
In this way we know that we love the children of God
when we love God and obey his commandments.
For the love of God is this,
that we keep his commandments.
And his commandments are not burdensome,
for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.
And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.
Who indeed is the victor over the world
but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

This is the one who came through water and blood, Jesus Christ,
not by water alone, but by water and blood.
The Spirit is the one that testifies,
and the Spirit is truth.

  • We the redeemed are “begotten by God.” Christ’s redemption, which justifies us, “brings about filial adoption so that men become Christ’s brethren . . .. We are brethren . . . by the gift of grace, because that adoptive filiation gains us a real share in the life of the only Son, which was fully revealed in his Resurrection.” (CCC 654)
  • Through Baptism, which is a participation in Christ’s Passion, we are given the gift of faith which we exercise by obeying God’s commands, which are not a burden but an expression of love.

Gospel Jn 20:19-31

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.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
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.”

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve,
was not with them when Jesus came.
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.”

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.”
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.”
Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples
that are not written in this book.
But these are written that you may come to believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that through this belief you may have life in his name.

  • The Risen Christ offers to the disciples and to us a two-fold peace. Our sins, by which we were at war with God and one another, are forgiven. And death, which would rob us of everything, is destroyed.
    • The disciples and their successors—bishops and priests—are given the divine power to dispense Christ’s power of forgiveness through the Sacrament of Confession, by which we reveal—so they can forgive or retain them—our sins.
    • The disciples must have described the appearance of Christ’s glorified body to Thomas, including the five wounds he retained, so that the doubting disciple could demand to see and touch them himself.
  • “The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.” We rejoice a little now, based on how well we lived the season of Lent. When we see Christ as our brother face to face at the moment of our particular judgment, we will rejoice even more than the disciples did at that moment. Top of Form

Doctrine: Our new birth in the Resurrection of Christ

  • Christ’s Pasch justifies us. That is, his Passion makes things right between God and man. How right does he make them to be?
  • Christ’s justification of man has “two aspects”: He saves us and he sanctifies us. As the Catechism puts it, “by his death, Christ liberates us from sin; by his Resurrection, he opens for us the way to a new life” (CCC 654).
    • This two-part process is akin to having a serious illness or injury. It is not enough just to be healed or put back together. The body must also recover at least to where it was before.
  • In the case of our sanctification, over time, if we cooperate with the medicine of God’s saving grace, which we receive above all through the Sacraments, we grow into ‘supermen’ or rather into God himself. Through “filial adoption . . . men become Christ’s brethren” (CCC 654; Mt28:10; Jn 20:17). Of course, Jesus is the Son of God by nature, by his eternal generation, while we are brethren “by the gift of grace,” but it is a “real share in the life of the only Son, which was fully revealed in his Resurrection” (CCC 654).
  • “The risen Christ lives in the hearts of his faithful while they await” their own resurrection from the dead, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (CCC 655; 1 Cor15:20-22).
  • To summarize, “Through the power of the Holy Spirit we take part in Christ’s Passion by dying to sin, and in his Resurrection by being born to a new life; we are members of his Body which is the Church, branches grafted onto the vine which is himself” (CCC 1988; Cf. 1 Cor12; Jn 15:1-4). This is how we are “divinized,” because “we become communicants in the divine nature” (CCC 1988; St. Athanasius,  Serap. 1,24: PG 26,585 and 588).

Practical application: Cooperation in growing in the new life Christ offers us

  • We really are patients whose lifespan is a rehabilitation from a grave calamity against our whole person. Therefore, we should apply the Church’s medicine or therapy to our entire person: intellect, will, passions and emotions.
  • Our intellects still have dark places, our wills remain weakened, and our passions and emotions often still demand they be obeyed, no matter what they want or see as good. Therefore we need formation to be rehabilitated:
    • Ongoing intellectual formation in the Faith so we can more perfectly assent to it.
      • We also, each, need an overall intellectual formation to the extent that we are capable of receiving it.
    • Ongoing character formation so that with the help of grace our wills will be able to resist the irrational demands of our bodies and do God’s will rather than what seems good in our own eyes alone. The four cardinal virtues are key here: prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance.
    • Spiritual nutrition: We need the grace of the Sacraments, especially infusions of grace through the Eucharist and Confession.
    • A life of prayer. We need to do our part to get to know the Blessed Trinity through a conversation with each of the persons.
  • One effective method for growing in these vital areas is to do one small thing, and then, when it is part of us, to do one more small thing.
    • For some, this could mean to start going to Mass every Sunday. A second thing would be to go to Confession to erase the sin of having deliberately missed Mass, so we can start receiving Communion. Another thing might be to go to Confession every time you deliberately miss Sunday Mass until you no longer are missing it. Then move on to another thing.
    • Another example is to spend five minutes a day talking with God in mental prayer. Once that becomes a habit, add one more thing, like reading the Gospel every day for a few minutes. After that becomes a habit, add one more thing.
  • Many businessmen have become wealthy by learning to do one thing, and then adding a second thing, then a third, and so on. Why not do similarly with your participation in the Kingdom of God, the greatest treasure?

The Homiletic Directory offers the following Catechism points and themes for Second Sunday of Easter:

  • CCC 448, 641-646: appearances of the risen Christ
  • CCC 1084-1089: sanctifying presence of the risen Christ in the liturgy
  • CCC 2177-2178, 1342: the Sunday Eucharist
  • CCC 654-655, 1988: our new birth in the Resurrection of Christ
  • CCC 926-984, 1441-1442: “I believe in the forgiveness of sins”
  • CCC 949-953, 1329, 1342, 2624, 2790: communion in spiritual goods
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