2nd Sunday of Easter, Sunday of Divine Mercy
Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24
1 Peter 1:3-9
Last week we celebrated Holy Week that culminated in the death and resurrection of Jesus. The tomb was found empty. Some wondered if someone had stolen Jesus’ body but we know that the empty tomb means Jesus is risen!
This fulfills Jesus’ words, ‘Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.’ While the disciples had heard these words of Jesus, they were troubled in trying to understand. What does it mean to be raised up?
The disciples are gathered together trying to make sense of what has happened. It is in this context that Jesus appears to them. Clearly, the body has not been stolen. He is risen!
Risen, he is not just spirit. To help them understand the Resurrection, he points them to his hands to see where the nails were driven on the Cross. He points to his side where he was speared. This is not just his spirit nor is it a new body. Jesus is raised body and soul to new life.
This might be difficult to belief. It was for Thomas. Because of his disbelief, he is forever referred to as ‘doubting Thomas’ but would we have been any different. No one had ever risen from the dead before.
Jesus shows us the Resurrection that we will share in after our physical death if we believe in him as the way and the truth and the life.
We think of the Resurrection as something that happens to us after our physical death but our life in Christ has already begun in our baptism.
Life in Heaven will be glorious and joyful as we stand before God. Knowing of life in Heaven should shape the way we live in this world.
The Acts of the Apostles tell us about the life of the early church and the spread of the faith. Specifically, today we hear how the disciples lived a communal life. “They would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need.”
We might think of this as applying to those in religious life who take promises of poverty. That is one way of living this out but the passage applies to all of us in some way.
When I say it applies to all of us, some might be concerned if I am going to advocate for socialism. I am not. In fact, if you read the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2402-2406), our faith affirms the right to private property.
Then how does this passage apply to all of us? I take it as an invitation for all of us to think about what we do have. It says that each received according to their “need.”
What do we need? How much of what we have do we need? How much do we have just to look good? How much do we hold onto?
I went to a workshop this week where the speaker commented on how many mini-storage places continue to pop up. What are we storing in all of these storage buildings? Or perhaps you have a garage that you can’t get the car in because it is full of stuff in boxes.
Do we really need all of the things we have in storage?
Maybe or maybe not. There might be seasonal items or maybe we are storing some stuff in between selling one home and buying another. Maybe we just have too much stuff. Maybe it is time to clean ‘our closets’ and give what we don’t need to charity so that it can be used to help those in need.
What our faith is calling all of us to in this passage from Acts is simplicity of life. This simplicity of life calls us to set aside our pride and concerns. I say ‘concerns’ because sometimes we hold onto things we don’t need to be prepared for bad things.
It is good to be prepared. We should have some in reserve but not the point of greed or hoarding. The saying ‘you never know when you might need’ only goes so far as a reason to hold onto things.
Life can bring challenges. As Peter writes we “may have to suffer through various trials.” There is a point of being prepared and there is a point of trusting in God’s mercy.
When we hear of God’s mercy, we might most often think of his forgiveness, certainly something we need at times but God’s mercy is not just his forgiveness. It is the aid he gives to us, the concern he shows for us.
Think of the disciples in the room where Jesus appeared to them. They were sitting behind locked doors “for fear of the Jews.” In his mercy, Jesus did not want the disciples to live in fear. He appeared to them so they could begin to understand what the Resurrection really is. Jesus came to help us know how we are called to live.
Simplicity of life can help us know Jesus and to trust in him. If we spend all of time and effort trying to have ‘more’, then we bind ourselves up. If we live ‘simply’ we unlock ourselves to focus on what life in Jesus offers us.