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Second Sunday of Easter Reflection



Today’s reading from the Gospel of John is proclaimed  on the Second Sunday of Easter in each of the  lectionary cycles. This fact alone should alert us to the  significance of the encounters with the resurrected  Jesus that are described in this reading. This Gospel  combines two scenes: Jesus’ appearance to his  disciples after his Resurrection and Jesus’ dialogue with  Thomas, the disciple who doubted.

Part of the mystery of Jesus’ Resurrection is that he  appeared to his disciples not as a spirit, but in bodily  form. We do not know, however, exactly what this  form looked like. Earlier in John’s Gospel, when Mary of  Magdala first encountered the risen Jesus, she did not  recognize him until he spoke to her. In Luke’s Gospel,  the disciples walking along the road to Emmaus did not  recognize Jesus until he broke bread with them. We  know from readings such as today’s that in his  resurrected form, Jesus was not bound by matter; he  appeared to the disciples inside a home even though  the door was locked. Yet the disciples could still touch  the marks of his Crucifixion.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus greets his disciples with the  gift of peace. Jesus then commissions his disciples to  continue the work that he has begun; as Jesus was sent  by God, so Jesus sends his disciples. He gives his  disciples the gift of the Holy Spirit so that they will be  able to accomplish this task. Jesus’ words to his  disciples also highlight the integral connection between  the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.  With the grace of the Holy Spirit, we can share  forgiveness and reconciliation with others.

Thomas, the doubting disciple in today’s reading,  represents the reality of the Church that comes after  this first community of witnesses to Jesus. All but the  first disciples of Jesus must believe without seeing. Like  Thomas, we may doubt the news that Jesus, who was  crucified and buried, appeared to his disciples. Our  human nature seeks hard evidence that the Jesus who  appeared to his disciples after his death is indeed the  same Jesus who was crucified. Thomas is given the  opportunity to be our representative in obtaining this  evidence. He gives witness to us that the Jesus who  was raised is the same Jesus who died. Through the gift  of the Holy Spirit, we are among those who are  blessed, for we have not seen and yet believe.

Loyola Press, Sunday Connection, for 2nd Sunday of Easter


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