Happy Easter! Yes it is still Easter. After spending 40 days of Lent preparing ourselves for Easter we spend the 50 days of the Easter Season celebrating the core event of our faith. During this time the readings tell us about the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus to the disciples and what those appearances mean to us as followers of the “Risen One.” This Sunday the Church celebrates the Octave Day of Easter also called the Second Sunday of Easter. The readings for this Sunday deal with the person of our resurrected Savior and His presence in the community of His followers. As He was present with the disciples nearly 2000 years ago He still with us today. Do I recognize His presence and how do I let it affect my life?
First Reading: Acts 4:32-35
32 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. 33 With great power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all. 34 There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, 35 and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need.
NOTES on First Reading:
* 4:32-35 This section is a “summary composition” adjoining two separate incidents from Luke’s (Luke is the author of Acts) tradition. It generalizes and idealizes the individual cases that are immediately adjoining it. There was already in Luke’s time a well established tradition of such “utopian” descriptions in Greek literature. He followed the common tendency and developed a “golden age” impression of the church in the apostolic age. Since the ideal being described is based upon the Lucan gospel’s emphasis on renunciation of possessions it is not without value as an example of Gospel living as long as it is not taken too literally as a historical account.
* 4:33 The apostle’s deeds of power marked and validated their testimony of the resurrection (1:21- 23; 3:12-16). In them the “Risen One” continued His activity in the world.
* 4:35 Luke seems to understand the surrender of possessions as voluntary and to be related to the needs of the community rather than as mandatory or systematic.
Second Reading: 1 John 5:1-6
1 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. 2 In this way we know that we love the children of God when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, 4 for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world. And the victory that conquers the world is our faith. 5 Who (indeed) is the victor over the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 6 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.
NOTES on Second Reading:
* 5:1-12 Much of 1 John deals with a schism in one of the Johannine communities. The author instructs the remaining members be faithful and loving toward one another. In this section the letter presents a final argument against the dissidents.
* 5:1-5 Here the writer links the theme of faith in Jesus as the Son of God with the love command of Jesus.
* 5:1 A conventional maxim of the time is used to tie love of God to the love of fellow Christians from 4:20-21.
* 5:4 The victory over the world was won when Christians were converted (2:13,14). The word of God or the “anointing” that it carries is the source of this victory (4:4) won by Jesus.
* 5:6-12 This section expands the affirmation that belief is the source of eternal life in two directions: Belief must include His coming in water and in blood. Belief in the Son is grounded in God’s own testimony. In John 1:31-32, John the Baptist testifies that revelation of Jesus as preexistent Son was linked to the descent of the Spirit and to Baptism (1 John 5:7 refers to testimony by the Spirit). Jesus’ sending is associated with the boundless gift of the Spirit (John 3:34; 7:38- 39). The stress that is laid on the blood may indicate that the dissidents acknowledged salvation as stemming from the Spirit and water (Baptism) but did not appreciate the role of the crucifixion. Crucifixion was not a respectable or acceptable way to die. Early converts to Christ had much difficulty overcoming their cultural aversion to a “Crucified Savior.” John 19:35 is often speculated to have been inserted in order to emphasize that this conviction about the value and importance of the death of Jesus goes back to the “beloved disciple,” himself.
Gospel Reading: John 20: 19-31
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.
NOTES on Gospel:
* 20:19-29 The appearances to the disciples, without or with Thomas (John 11:16; 14:5), have rough parallels in the other gospels only for John 20:19-23; see Luke 24:36-39; Mark 16:14-18.
Implicitly from John 20:24 “the disciples” means ten of the Twelve, presumably in Jerusalem. “Peace be with you” echoes John 14:27. The theme of rejoicing in John 20:20 echoes John 16:22.
* 20:20 In contrast to John, Luke 24:39-40 mentions “hands and feet,” based on Psalm 22:17.
* 20:21 Though John does not use the noun in reference to them, this is where the Eleven really become Apostles (“those sent”); see John 17:18. Matthew 28:19, Luke 24:47, and Mark 16:15 also make a solemn mission or “sending” the subject of the post-resurrection appearances to the Eleven.
* 20:22 This action echoes Genesis 2:7, where God breathed on the first man and gave him life. Just as Adam’s life came from God, so now the disciples’ new spiritual life comes from Jesus. They are new creations in this Spirit of Jesus. See also the revivification of the dry bones in Ezekiel 37. This event is John’s version of the Pentecost story.
The apostles did truly receive the Holy Spirit at this time although the gifts of the Holy Spirit were not manifested until Pentecost.
* Jn 20:22-23 On October 25, 1551, in “Canons on the Sacrament of Penance,” canon 3, the Council of Trent said that verses 22 and 23 are to be understood as referring to the power of remitting and retaining sins in the sacrament of penance, and not simply to an authority for preaching the Gospel. This was and had always been the traditional understanding of these verses within the Catholic Church.
* 20:23 Jesus here gives his apostles the task of continuing His ministry of reconciliation. They are charged with the task of forgiving sins as He had done during His ministry. This was defined by the Council of Trent as a scriptural basis for the sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation. See Matthew 16:19; Matthew 18:18.
* 20:28 The words, “My Lord and my God”, form a literary inclusion with the first verse of the gospel, “and the Word was God.”
* 20:29 This verse is a beatitude on future generations. Jesus tells us that faith, not sight, matters.
* 20:30-31 These verses are clearly a conclusion to the gospel and express its purpose. Many manuscripts read come to believe, possibly implying a missionary purpose for John’s gospel but a small number of quite early ones read “continue to believe,” which many scholars suggest, indicates that the audience consists of Christians whose faith was to be deepened by the book. See John 19:35. </font