2nd Sunday of Easter – 2018

East2B18.   Acts of the Apostles 4:32-35.   “The community of believers was of one heart and mind.”  Their oneness was out of their unity in the one Lord Jesus over them.  “With great power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.”  This scene occurs after the Pentecost when they received the Holy Spirit who gave them great power to help them bring others to believe in Jesus as their Lord.

John 20:19-31.  In this gospel there is a study of contrasts or opposites.  Jesus comes to bring peace to those who locked the doors in fear of the Jewish authorities, who had put Jesus to death and who might put them to death too.  Alone behind those locked doors they were powerless against the powers of this earth but Jesus came to empower them with a heavenly power to forgive sins and to go into the world to bring others to Christ.  Thomas came to believe because he saw with his own eyes the physical presence of the risen Lord; to which Jesus says, “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”  Belief is the central message of this gospel which ends with the words: “But these (words) are written 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.”  Not physical evidence but rather words that testify to the resurrection are given us that through the power of the Holy Spirit that we may have the belief that gives us life in his name.

Jesus says in this Gospel: “Receive the Holy Spirit.  Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”  Jesus in his public ministry made it clear that it made no sense to give the fullness of life to the body yet leave the soul sick in sin.  After having lowered a man on a stretcher through the roof since they could not get to Jesus because of the crowd around him, Luke 5:20 reads: When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “As for you your sins are forgiven.”  In Luke 5:24, Jesus continues, “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed, “I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.” His forgiveness of us through the sacrament of Reconciliation gives spiritual health to a sick soul so that we “may have life in his name.”  As it says in psalm 118:2, “Let the house of Israel say, “His mercy endures forever.”

John 5:1-6.  This epistle begins, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God.”  Belief in Jesus requires that we are no longer people of the ways of this world but rather of the ways of heaven.  In John 3:6, Jesus says to Nicodemus, “What is born of the flesh is flesh and what is born of the spirit is spirit.” Jesus continues in John 3:7b, “You must be born from above.” In today’s epistle, John continues, “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.”  Being born of the Father, as his sons and daughters, demands that we love no only God but also his love for us which is expressed in his loving will and direction over us.  Since Jesus Christ is Lord over us, we are subjects of Jesus and not this world.  “The victory that conquers the world is our faith,” that Jesus is Lord and not this world.  Jesus came through the water of his baptism to begin his work of redemption and then through the blood of his cross to complete our redemption.  We do not have to see with our eyes the actual physically risen body of Christ because we have the Spirit who is “the one that testifies, and the Spirit is truth.”  We have the faith that is given to us by the Spirit and not by sight.  In 2 Corinthians 5:7, Paul wrote, “We are always courageous, although we know that while we are home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.”