Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!
Blessings of mercy and love to you this second Sunday of Easter. Today concludes the octave of Easter, the eight-day celebration of the rising of Christ from the dead. It is also Divine Mercy Sunday. What blessings, because who of us does not need God’s forgiving, healing, life-giving mercy and compassion?
I would like to break open the scriptures in a way that I have seldom done. Please pick up your Breaking Bread songbooks and open to page 149 in the beginning section. Page 149.
Our gospel today is familiar to most of us as it is read every 2nd Sunday of Easter every year.
I want to focus on the second reading, the 1st Letter of St. Peter. Most scripture scholars surmise that this letter was not written by the apostle Peter himself because of historical circumstances and possible dating of the letter. Nonetheless, the attribution to Peter intends to lend an importance authority to its teaching and lets us know that the author was a companion and follower of Peter himself.
Our reading offers a rich meditation on the effects of the Resurrection. Let’s walk through it.
“Blessed be God.” What joyous words for this 2nd Sunday of Easter. How can we not give God glory and honor and praise for all that God has done for us.
God, who is Father, Abba, of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament, Lord was the title given to God, the unspeakable name revealed to Moses, “I am who am.” So when Jesus said, “I AM the bread of life; I AM the Good Shepherd, I AM the vine, I AM the Way, the Truth and the Life,” the Jews accused him of blasphemy.
So what Peter is saying is that Jesus is who he said he was because he did what he said he would happen, the fulfillment of the scriptures – that he would be handed over, suffer, crucified, die and on the third day rise from the dead.
Our Father, in his great mercy, that is, compassion and love for us, gives us a new birth, to a living hope through the resurrection.
This is life is not just a “resuscitation Lazarus-like life.” This is not simply having years added to our present life.
No, this is a change so profound that every dimension of who we are is transformed. Our lives are set on a totally new trajectory, a reorientation, a thoroughly transformed existence that is moving toward a fulfillment that we can expect even while we can’t really imagine it.
This is a living hope, alive and active that is leading us to and inheritance that is imperishable (longer shelf life than even a Twinkie), undefiled (no preservatives or GMOs and certainly gluten free) and unfading (bright and beautiful as ever).
“Kept in heaven for you.” What a promise! Remember, this life is passing. None of us get out alive. We all die and for many today, they have no sense of immortality or real desire for it.
Our inheritance is God’s life, God’s infinite love, mercy and compassion. Our inheritance is to be “oned” as the Eastern Church teach, that is to be totally united to God through, in and with Jesus Christ.
This inheritance is kept safe by the power of God who is totally trustworthy and more reliable than the F.D.I.C.
This inheritance is our salvation from sin and death, from all that is not of God, from all that diminishes who we are as human being created in the likeness of God. All this will be revealed in its fullness in the final time, that is the second coming of Jesus Christ.
“In this you rejoice.” The challenge is, “Do we?” Show of hands: anybody come to Mass last Sunday? Any difference between then and now? Yes, lots less people.
We need to pray for them. They don’t get it. If they understood they would be here or at Mass somewhere. They would know that the encounter with the risen Lord is gift at every Eucharist.
So what about us? The genuineness of our faith will be tested so as to be purified and made even more precious by the difficulties and challenges that we face in being an intentional disciple, follower of Jesus Christ and member of his Body, the Church as we heard about in the first reading.
It is essential to come back to the Eucharist week after week because although we do not see Jesus physically like the disciples did after the resurrection, we love him, we believe in him and we rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as we attain the goal of our faith, the salvation of our souls.
This is how Pope Emmeritus Benedict XVI put it: “Jesus is risen not because his memory remains alive in the hearts of his disciples, but because he himself LIVES in us, and in him we can already savor the joy of eternal life.”
Our indescribable and glorious joy is a “who” and not just a “what.” Eternal life is a relationship that fulfills our deepest yearning and longing.
My prayer is that this is why we are here at this Eucharist, because we have tasted and yearn for more. We have been encountered by Christ and so desire to be united with him in spite of all our weakness, brokenness, denial and sin. Like St. Peter himself, we weep for our sin yet also rejoice in Jesus’ divine mercy.
This is a copy of the original image of Divine Mercy that Sr. Faustina had painted except for one thing. At the bottom of the image was written: “Jesu, ufam tobie.” That’s Polish for Jesus, I trust in you.”
The full meaning of this is found in St. Faustina’s Diary where she writes, “O, Blood and Water which gushed forth from the heart of Jesus as a fountain of mercy for us, I trust in You.”
May this image of the Divine Mercy help us to understand the beauty of this reading from Peter, the Acts and resurrection appearances from John. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”