by Sr. Margaret Hickey, ND
Acts 2:42-47; Psalm 118; Peter 13-9; John 20:10-31
In this holy season of Easter, scripture reflects many happenings following the death and resurrection of Jesus. Did these events happen quickly or over a longer period of time? John admits that there were many more events that were recorded. Regardless of the time span or the number, they give us a profile of the disciples of Jesus and the growth of the early Church. And they challenge us as the followers of Jesus living today.
Imagine the emotions of the 11 disciples after the death of Jesus, those of the multitudes who followed Jesus in his three years of ministry to his untimely and horrible death on the cross, and the feelings of the women who discovered the empty tomb. Loss, fear, disappointment, anxiety, confusion, doubt, betrayal - someone who had healed, accepted, transformed and affirmed was gone from their midst. What Jesus promised would happen did happen - He was raised from the dead! With the strong emotions running through this early church, the promise might have been hard to remember.
I try to place myself in the group of the early followers of Jesus, and wonder what I would have been feeling and doing, and where I might be. How strong would be my faith, how strong my hope; would I have denied and run away too? Would I also have doubted the whole experience of Jesus’ presence, healing, service and teachings?
Or would I have come to believe that Jesus’ life, death and resurrection was the beginning of something wonderful, something I was called to be an integral part of. Today’s readings from Acts record the activities of the early church: devotion to the teaching of Jesus and his apostles; commitment to communal life - holding all things in common, giving what they had so that all needs would be met; gathering for daily prayer and the breaking of the bread; giving thanks for the wonders that had been completed among them; and answering the call to spread the Word to the entire world, knowing they could meet the same fate as Jesus had met on the cross.
Peter, the one who denied Jesus three times and who experienced all the above feelings, writes in today’s second reading: “God our Creator with great mercy gives us new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, an imperishable, undefiled, and unfading inheritance, a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time…” This is the promise that moved the early church to travel the known world living Jesus’ message of love. It is the promise that turned Thomas’ doubt to belief. It is the promise that endures to today, in our lives and in the lives of so many even today being persecuted for living this promise. It is the promise that ultimately gives us Life.
May God fill our hearts with joy in the Holy Spirit as we celebrate this holy season of Easter. Amen.