2nd Sunday of Easter
Easter 2nd Sunday
Acts 4 : 32-35 I John 5 : 1-6 John 20 : 19 – 31
By experiencing the Risen Jesus, let us try to move from fear to courage, from selfishness to altruism.
Resurrection is a pivotal event in the history of Christianity. But for resurrection, our faith becomes meaningless and ridiculous, as St. Paul says, “if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain” (1Cor. 15:14), Today’s readings beautifully elucidate how the event of resurrection helped the disciples and the early Christians to move from a lower level of living to a higher level of living.
a). From Fear to Courage :
We read in the gospel that the disciples, after the death of Jesus, were in the grip of fear. John writes, “the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews”. Fear is an emotion that can create a lot of havoc in our lives. It makes us to give undue weightage even to tiny, insignificant things; It limits our freedom and movement; It makes us live under the tyranny of self-created boundaries. Precisely this is what that happened to the disciples. The death of Jesus had almost paralysed their lives completely, they did not think of anything other than shutting themselves off in a room.
However the same fearful disciples, after experiencing the risen Jesus and, as its consequence, receiving the Holy Spirit, became very powerful and irresistible. The Book of the Acts of the Apostles present a picture of the disciples, who were bold, courageous and daring. The Sanhedrin, which was the most powerful and highest religious body of Jewism, tried its best to contain the disciples, and thus the spread of Christianity. But it was of no use. On being warned not to speak in the name of Jesus, St. Peter and John responded, “”Whether it is right in God’s sight to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; for we cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19,20). What a courageous response and unequivocal stand! In short, there was no much of fear in their lives.
b).. From Self-centeredness to Community-centeredness :
Today’s first reading presents the lifestyle of the early Christians that was much different from that of others. Though everything was not perfect with the early church (as we see in the latter chapters of the Acts that these were rifts and strife), it is no exaggeration to say that the impact of resurrection was very visible in their lives.
While the other people were self-centered, the early Christians were other-centered. While the others were divided and disunited, the early Christians were “of one heart and soul.” While the others were more concerned about accumulating and aggregating their personal wealth, the early Christians did not consider anything as their own and everything was common to all. While the others were indifferent towards the poor and the vulnerable of the society, the early Christians shared whatever they had with the poor and the marginalized and thus all had their fill and there was no one in need.
c).. From Where to Where?
Coming to our own lives, we need to ask ourselves whether there is a movement from a lower level of living to a higher level of loving. It is very true that we are in the grip of fear. According to today’s psychology, it is the fear that is responsible for restless anger, unnecessary worry, limitless greed which today’s society suffers from. It is also true that many people try to cover up their fear by the mask of aggression and hostility. It has to be kept in mind that aggression, rowdism etc are not the signs of real courage.
There is also another type of fear that we need to look into i.e. approaching religious precepts and spiritual activities with a lot of fear. Many follow them, not because they love God, but because they are afraid of God – that He may punish them or put them in hell. In fact, a cursory glance of the gospel would reveal to us that the whole Jewish religion was in the grip of fear. The Pharisees and the Scribes had presented the laws and commandments in such a way that people had developed a fearful attitude towards God, and it was out of fear they were following the commandments., It was from this fear Jesus tried to bring people out. St. John in today’s second reading, writes the early Christians, to come out of this fearful attitude in following the commandments and to follow them with love. He invites us to love God and, as an expression of that love, to follow the commandments, only then “his commandments are not burdensome.”
Secondly, we are also called, like the early Christians, to move out of all sorts of egoistic, selfish ways of living. Helen Keller was a legendary person who lived in America in the last century. She was a born blind, deaf person. With the help of her teacher Anne Sullivan, she reached greater heights in her life. Once, she gave a lecture in a particular place and after it, invited the questions. Someone asked her, “Miss Keller, if you could have but one wish granted, what would it be?” Her answer was not sight or hearing, which were more important for her, but “I would wish for world peace.”
Loving Father, may the resurrection of your Son propel us to live our lives in a higher level, Amen.