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Contents: Volume 2 - 2nd Sunday of Easter - C
April 24, 2022

 

  2022

EASTER

II

(C)

 

1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP

4. --

5. --(Your reflection can be here!)

 

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2nd Sun. of Easter

In our Gospel reading today, Jesus says: " Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed." Technically, that means us, each of us. But haven't each of us seen Jesus working in us and through us and in others around us?

I know I have! I am greatly blessed once again when I take the time to recall exactly why I believe that miracles still do happen. Jesus is still alive in this world and working very hard (sometimes overtime I usually say when the going is really tough).

At the soon-to-be age of 77, I am the chief caregiver of my 13 year old granddaughter, a true delight, but a true teenage handful many a time. I KNOW Jesus is alive when, although I am the one who deliberately taught her to speak her mind, she does so... and I remain silent, yes silent, until I can utter the words of understanding and caring that Jesus would. Sometimes, when I do speak, it is more Jesus's words of encouragement rather than the ones along the line of "what did you say?" or "you did what??" that I might feel like yelling. Then there are some people around our family who, in spite of whatever craziness is buffeting them in their own space, take the time to check in with us and remind us that Jesus is alive and why we commit to mutual prayers.

Yes, there is evil in the world, but so much more is good! Each of us can be part of the authentic and greatly transformed community of Jesus that continues to do exactly what Jesus did... see the good in people, care for their needs, and encourage them. There is much need for "signs and wonders" in our time. Those opportunities exist within our very homes and neighborhoods, churches, schools, and work places. May Jesus, in His Divine Mercy, extend that mercy to us and guide us where to share it with others.

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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Second Sunday of Easter April 24 2022

A.K.A. Divine Mercy Sunday

Acts of the Apostles 5:12-16; Responsorial Psalm 118: Revelation 1:9-11, 12-13, 17-19; Gospel Acclamation John 20:29; John 20:19-31

When a person of affection, of love, and of experienced intimacy dies, whether suddenly or after protracted illness or failed mending after an accident, the experience for the spouse is like no other. Even the death of a parent pales in comparison. The memory of the one loved so intensely and so completely clings to consciousness and one-way communication continues, sometimes with intensity of longing, sometimes with a flood of gentle love so complete as to lift the heart to an understanding of union beyond common life. So it must have been with the disciples, especially the women from Galilee who followed and ministered to Jesus before his execution. The empty tomb of Easter is an experience well beyond that wrenching separation that was the death of Jesus. What a terrific flood of confusion: what a cacophony of disbelief contested by actual sight and hearing! Then when the Risen One is absence, doubts may have arisen about the input from their senses. Were they hallucinating? Were they experiencing mass hysteria? How could this be? The horrors of an illegal trial by religious authorities, the complicity of a politician/governor terrified of superiors back in Rome, the fickleness of crowd easily manipulated into mobs using highly charged conspiracy rumors – these still roused fear and trembling in these simple and not so simple fishermen, tradesmen, shepherds, scribes, capitalists, and tax collectors. Anyone who experiences death of their intimate experiences all these emotions running rampant. Yet, yet, yet! There is this other aspect that awakens – not so much in the mind, that reasoning part of us – awakens in our heart a hope springing to faith. It is the heart that is the seat of love that defies understanding. Hope aroused for continued union, for expanded embracing, for complete surrender to other awakens another virtue, another strength of the human heart. That strength is faith itself – revealed. The disciples – not merely the apostles – the disciples gathered in that room once the place of the Passover meal that signaled a new Exodus, not from Egypt this time, but from the inclinations to denials of the wonder of other. Sin itself, sin that results from hardness of heart, from stiffness of neck, from inability to see and accept every other as a wonder of God’s fingers – that is what sin is. Noted theologians insist that sin is an offense to God not because God is hurt but because it is a denial of the wonder, dignity, and worth of other and of creation.

Until Thomas meets the risen one, his heart is unable to come to hope. What is the greeting of the Christ – that greeting not only to Thomas but to all? "Peace be with you!" This is not the absence of war or violence. The greeting is a blessing. It is a hoped-for outcome of this meeting. This blessing is a permanent change of a person. No matter what evil strikes at a person possessing peace, they will be unshaken. No matter when there is death that sneaks in and steals the love of our life from us – there can still be this peace given and created in even the most sorrowing heart, the most stressed person.

The first reading gives us a clue to looking deeper into the Scriptures for this Sunday. Those first Christians were accustomed to gather in the colonnade of Solomon – one of two colonnades in the Temple. The first reading speaks of the Church as a place of healing, a place of renewed and transformed life. Those who were ill, those possessed by evil spirits, were made whole. They were transformed if only struck by the shadow of the passing Peter. Our Church is not an assembly of healing in our time. Whoa! Wait a minute! The healing of our time has more to do with the Spirit. We come to our assembly in order to be changed, to be transformed, to be made whole in our spirits. In the hearing of the Word and its explanation, we are provided with insight and inspiration to grow and transform ourselves into the peace that Jesus blessed the disciples. What is there that claws and tears at our Spirits, that disturbs us, that distracts us from reaching out to God, the only God whose love formed us, calls to us, transforms us. Even death, even death cannot rob us of our wholeness, our holiness. As difficult as death of a spouse or a child is, there is an underlying hope for a newness of life for the one lost to us. When we too reach the end of our journeys, we too will be transformed and rejoin that person, those persons, who taught us how to love, how to surrender, how to rise up from ashes like the phoenix, into newness of life promised and guaranteed by the Son of God/Son of Man’s own experience.

In this Sunday’s gospel we hear of the experience of Thomas, an apostle not present that resurrection first day of the week. I like to think he was out looking for a job, or some opportunity to build a different life. It seemed to him – and often to us as well – that this was a lost dream. Time to move on, get back into the ways of the world and judge one’s life on the world’s measures of success.

Thomas was there the second first day of the week. He saw the wounds – even though invited to put his finger into the nail marks in Jesus hands and his hand into the mark of the wound in his side, we do not know if Thomas felt compelled to do that. We do not get the chance to touch the Lord…. Or do we? Do we know suffering – personally or as sharers in the suffering of others. Leading them to newness of life, whether through a return to physical wholeness or escorted by a chorus of angels and welcomed by a cloud of martyrs, witnesses to God’s presence in our time and place – welcomed into the heavenly Jerusalem, a place where there is no more weeping, no more suffering. For the old has passed away, transformed by God’s loving, compassionate mercy to the darlings of his heart. The old passes away, but the resurrected person – whether continuing in good health, freed from addiction, freed from evil and the doers of evil – enters a new creation, the heavenly Jerusalem.

Today is Divine Mercy Sunday. This is when we must recall that the contract God has with his creation demands of God at God’s own volition, that God deal with us with loving kindness, with compassion, and with the mercy of the Prodigal son’s Dad. Let this sink into our hearts this Sunday. Let this lift us up in newness of life. For as we receive the Lord in the Eucharist, we become one in his suffering, death, AND RESURRECTION. Let us truly stand upon receiving the Lord until all our brothers and sisters have joined us in the One Body the one Blood.

Dennis Keller dkeller002@nc.rr.com

 

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BELIEVING IN JESUS IS PERSONAL: 2ND SUNDAY OF EASTER C

Acts 2:42-47; 1 Peter 1:3-9: John 20:19-31

When we come together for Mass every Sunday, we come to remember Jesus. Our presence and participation in the Eucharist are an act of faith - an act of personal faith and an act of shared faith. In praying together, we also help one another to believe, hope, and love more strongly. So, we become a stronger Christian community. It might be said of us what was said in our First Reading today about the infant Church in Jerusalem: "... the numbers of men and women who came to believe in the Lord increased steadily."

Our shared faith is above all faith in Jesus Christ. We believe that he has risen from the dead, that he is alive in himself and alive in us, and that he is our Teacher, King, and Leader. But nobody can do our believing for us. This is powerfully illustrated in our gospel story today.

It’s Easter Sunday and the disciples are huddled together in a locked room. After what happened to Jesus just two days before, they dare not venture out for fear for their lives. But Jesus himself does not hide from them. Suddenly he comes among them. His greeting is peace. Their response is joy. For the storyteller John, Easter Sunday is Pentecost, and the gift of the Spirit is the breath of the Risen Christ. The disciples breathe in the Spirit and the Spirit becomes part of their lives. Soon they will leave the Upper Room changed persons - fearless, energetic, and zealous people. In short, they will leave as persons animated, fired, and propelled outwards by the Holy Spirit.

But one of their group is missing. His name is Thomas. He is one of the apostles, part of the group. But he is also a distinct, independent self, a real individual. He cannot be both loyal to the group and disloyal to his inner self. That would make his loyalty deceitful and worthless. For Thomas, honesty and sincerity are, in fact, more important than loyalty and belonging. So, when the others say, ‘We have seen the Lord,’ he declares strongly and emphatically that before he is willing to believe that Jesus has risen and is alive, he must see and test the evidence for himself. He won’t accept that claim just on their say-so. It’s his honesty, then, that makes him doubt and leads to him being called ever afterward ‘Doubting Thomas.’

We learn from the gospel story that Thomas comes to believe in the Risen Jesus in the same way as the other disciples, i.e., when he sees the Lord for himself. But in the way that John tells the story, Thomas stands for all those who have not yet seen the Lord in the flesh but who are called to believe in him just the same. That’s where we come into the story. We are among those many generations of believers ever afterward of whom it may be said: ‘Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.’

One reason that Thomas was so slow to believe. is that he was such a rugged individual, a real self-starter. The other is because he was not present when Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit into his fellow disciples.

But Jesus has given the Spirit to you and me, first at Baptism, then at Confirmation, and subsequently, at every Eucharist we celebrate. The Spirit which Jesus gives is the Spirit of truth. It’s the same Spirit that empowers us to say to Jesus with Thomas: ‘My Lord and my God!’

Our faith is one of the main gifts the Spirit has given us. But it is not a one-off gift that we lock away in a safe like some precious jewel. As a form of life, we must let our faith grow and mature. On the other hand, like other forms of life, our faith can wither and die from neglect and lack of exercise. We need to pray about our faith, think about our faith, and express it in works of love.

This does not mean that we will never have any doubts. After all, even the great Mother Teresa had to struggle with doubts her whole life long. But if like Thomas we care about what we believe, surely sooner or later our faith, revived by the Holy Spirit, will bring us into the presence of God in the person of Jesus, whom our Second Reading today calls ‘the Living One,’ alive in himself, and alive in us, through the Holy Spirit, his second self.

Let’s make sure, then, that our faith in Jesus, risen and alive, is truly our own, and not simply borrowed!

"Brian Gleeson CP" <bgleesoncp@gmail.com>

 

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Volume 2 is for you. Your thoughts, reflections, and insights on the next Sundays readings can influence the preaching you hear. Send them to preacherexchange@att.net.  Deadline is Wednesday Noon. Include your Name, and Email Address.

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