II Easter Sunday
DESPITE THE CLOSED DOORS
Jn 20, 19-31
We find in this Sunday's Gospel two apparitions of the Risen One: one on the same day of the Resurrection with the presence of the apostles and the absence of Thomas, one of the Eleven; and the second, eight days later, with the presence of the entire group, including now Thomas.
The first apparition takes place "at dusk on the same day, the first of the week" (20,19), and The place where they were gathered is noted, but it is noted that the doors were closed for fear of the Jews. Fear and confinement are signs of the lack of faith of the first community, still struck by the events experienced in the last days.
In his first appearance the Risen Jesus greets the disciples by saying, "Peace to you!". More than a desire, it is here the effective donation of peace, a real presence of peace as a gift as Jesus had indicated in his farewell address: I leave you peace, I give you my peace, but not as the world gives it (Jn 14:27). This peace, according to the background of the Old Testament (Shalom), includes all the goods necessary for present life and the fullness of goods in future life. But what in the Old Testament was promise, by the death and resurrection of Christ becomes reality. It is right in the AT that God's presence in the midst of his people is considered to be the supreme good of peace (cf. Lev 26:12; Ez 37.26). Then for the Evangelist John the presence of the Risen Jesus in the midst of his own is the source and reality of peace that becomes present. And this peace is not linked to their bodily presence but to their reality of the risen, victorious of death, and therefore gives them, together with their peace, the Holy Spirit and the power to forgive sins (20:22-23).
Now, it is not a question of believing in air or emptiness; but we are called to have an experience, in faith, of the Presence of the Risen Jesus in our lives, analogous to that of the Apostles.
This Presence of Jesus escapes the senses because we cannot see or touch him as Thomas did; but we can feel the effects of his Presence, of his passage through our lives. Today's Gospel speaks first of all to us of the peace that the Lord gives to his own. Together with peace we have joy, which also refers to today's Gospel. Intimately linked to these experiences is the theme of forgiveness of sins entrusted to the Church (mercy). And at last, the root or cause of everything: the gift of the Holy Ghost.
In addition to faith, the other indispensable condition for this experience of the Risen Jesus is community insertion or belonging. Also in this the example of Thomas is clear. Only when he joined the apostolic community could he meet the Lord. The Lord becomes present in the community of believers and there we can 'see it' with the eyes of faith.
However, in order for the Church to make visible to men the Presence of the Risen Jesus has to live the characteristic notes described to us in the first reading. That is: a Church where believers have "one heart and one soul" and that is why communion lives even at the level of material goods so that none passes need.
The fruit of this experience of encounter with Christ is to become a new creature. Yes, because we have risen with Christ in Baptism and have been communicated to us, in germ, the new life of Grace. And this life of faith must grow and manifest itself in fraternal charity and in the fulfillment of the commandments; thus defeating the world that constantly invites us to selfishness and debauchery.
We would complete this by recalling the centrality of faith in the three readings. A faith lived in communion; a faith that brings us back to a new life that is expressed in fraternal love, fulfillment of the commandments, and victory over the world; Finally, a happy faith for the presence of the Risen Lord among us, even if we do not see him.
We can well say that the theme that unifies this Sunday is faith in the Risen Christ and his communal dimension. In this regard we can remember the Words of Pope Benedict XVI to inaugurate the Conference of Aparecida: What gives us faith in this God? The first answer is: it gives us a family, the universal family of God in the Catholic Church. Faith frees us from the isolation of the self, because it leads us to communion: the encounter with God is, in itself and as such, an act of convocation, unification, responsibility to the other and to others"
The Gospel also speaks to us of the "sending" of the disciples, and in them the whole Church receives the responsibility to prolong Jesus' mission in time; mission that can be summed up in the "forgiveness of sins" in the exercise of God's mercy. To the theme of faith and community, we then unedive the theme of mercy that is typical of this second Easter Sunday which is now also called Sunday 'of divine mercy', with the intention of educating the faithful to understand this devotion in the light of the liturgical celebrations of these Easter days. The purpose is to show how divine mercy is communicated by the dead and risen Christ, the source of the Spirit who forgives sins and restores the joy of salvation. In short, the revelation of divine mercy has its summit in the Paschal Mystery.
In this sense, by joining mission and mercy, the Easter faith leads us to look and touch the wounds of Jesus in our brothers and sisters, as Pope Francis proposed to us at regina Coeli on April 28, 2019: "Touching the wounds of Jesus, which are the many problems, the difficulties, the persecutions, the diseases of so many people who suffer. Aren't you at peace? Go visit someone who is a symbol of Jesus' sore, touch the sore of Jesus. Mercy springs from those sores. That is why today is the Sunday of mercy. A saint said that the body of Jesus crucified is like a sack of mercy, which through the sores comes to all of us. All of us need mercy, we know that. Let us approach Jesus and touch his wounds, in our suffering brethren. Jesus' wounds are a treasure: mercy springs from them. Let us be courageous and touch the wounds of Jesus. With these sores he is before the Father and teaches them to him, as if to say "Father, this is the price, these sores are what I have paid for my brethren". With his sores Jesus intercedes before the Father. It gives us mercy if we come closer and intercede for us. Don't forget Jesus' sores."
In the current pandemic situation, it is well said by Pope Francis in his 2020 Easter message: "The Risen One is nothing but the Crucified One. He carries in his glorious body the indelible sores, wounds that turn into light of hope. We turn our gaze to Him to heal the wounds of desolate humanity."
Jesus will continue to enter THE CLOSED DOORS, our hearts, and society with all the challenges we live in. May they continue to live happy Easter!
+Faustino Armendáriz Jiménez
OMCC Ecclesiastical Advisor