2013-04-07, 2nd Easter C, Blessed are the Believers

Homily 04-07-13
2nd Sunday Easter C
Acts 5:12-16; Ps 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24; Rev 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19; Jn 20:19-31

(Scriptures included after homily)

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12tribesEver wonder why Jesus chose Twelve Apostles,
aside from it being the number of the Tribes of Israel,
the number of months in a year, and
the number of donuts in a dozen? (mmmmm)

Well, another reason Jesus may have chosen twelve,
was to give us all at least one model personality type
that we could relate to.

You see, just like us, the Apostles were all different.

There was Matthew, the tax guy, the mathematician. Mt 9:9

There was John, the romantic, who actually referred to himself as “the beloved disciple.”  Jn 13:23

There was Nathaniel, the scientist, who liked exploring nature beneath a fig tree,
and always spoke exactly what was on his mind. Jn 1:45-50

There was Judas the rebel, the outcast. Lk 22:3

And then there were: James the hiker, Thomas the doubter, and Peter.

marymagdalenePeter, who was never shy of an opinion.  Peter, the teacher’s pet, forever true and dedicated, unless of course, he was confronted with a challenge, that sunk or crumbled him.

And we know that none of this was ever meant to exclude the women.  For them, there was: Mary Magdalene, Martha and her sister Mary, Mary the mother of Jesus, besides several others who were prominent in the Gospel accounts.  All had different personalities and characters.

And yet, even though there were all different, they did have one very important thing in common.  After the death and burial of Jesus, they all experienced something that was absolutely life-changing and even personality-changing.

If you’ve ever lived through a traumatic event with another person or group of people:  like a fire or an earthquake, like getting stuck in a broken elevator or fighting in a war, or even the death of someone close, then you’ve likely discovered, how sharing a traumatic event like that can truly and tightly Bond you together and maybe even change your whole outlook on life.

The Apostles and the women, were both in shock over the death of Jesus and petrified for their own lives, because they were HIS followers.  Can you just imagine their grief and their fear!

Jesus handsAnd then, out of the blue, there He was again!  Maybe a little different this time.  But there were the scars, and Matthew was counting.
And there was the proof, and Nathaniel was recording.  And after Peter came out from hiding under the table, our romantic John tells us that, “The disciples Rejoiced when they saw the Lord.”

You see, what Jesus didn’t say was: “What happened here?”, “Where did you all disappear to?”, “What are you hiding from?”, or worse, “Maybe now,
it should payback time!”
  No, instead, Jesus made three very important statements.

First, He said, “Peace be with you.”  Relax guys and gals.  It’ll be alright!  Your God NOW knows EXACTLY what it feels like to be human: to be despised and hated, to be deserted and lonely, to be hurt, and yet, to be LOVED.  And your God loves you so very much, that through His Divine Mercy, you will always be forgiven, because you are loved beyond imagination.

BreathYou see, Jesus knew, that now was the time for his disciples to dump this FEAR thing.  And in order to accomplish that, Jesus breathed – the Strength of the Holy Spirit into every one of them.

It was this “Life-changing Event’ that made the ‘cowering Peter’ become ‘the Rock’, undaunted,
even by imprisonment and the threat of death.

It was this same life-changing event that opened the mind of the ‘beloved disciple, John’ to see the Vision that he recorded in the Book of Revelation, even as an old prisoner in exile.

And it was this same life-changing event that made our ‘doubting Thomas’ bold enough
to spread the Gospel message of Jesus, all the way east into India.

And for us, it IS this same Holy Spirit, whom we receive in our Confirmation, that brings us the strength to change our Lives too.

So this first statement of Jesus was all about –
Peace and Strength and the end of fear.

___________________

Second, Jesus said that with this new-borne strength, His disciples are now called
to Go out on Mission.  He said, “Just as my Father has sent me, so I send youto
‘Go forth’, for even though my ‘Mass is ended’, yours is just beginning!  So, go now and bring my Peace out into the world.  Go now and offer my Forgiveness, and carry my Love in your hearts.

Is this something that we actually DO in our everyday lives, beloved?
– Or, does our work get us down; when WE are the ones called to raise IT up?
– Does the ugliness of the world get us down; when WE are the ones who can raise
it back to the Beauty of its origin?
– Does pain or flu, or disease or grief get us down, beloved?
Jesus says, look at MY cross, and know that I understand, and that together
we can be raised back up, in Hope.

You see, Jesus rose to bring us
Peace
and Strength, and Mission and Purpose.

___________________

Thirdly, Jesus said, I understand that this may not all seem very easy.

I’ll provide you with Peace.
The Holy Spirit will provide the Strength.
My resurrection will bring you the Hope.

But You will need to have the Faith.
You will need to Believe in Me.

You see, what we need, brothers and sisters in Christ, is to break out of our stubborn, “prove it attitudes,” and accept some things – just for what they are:
– that Jesus Christ IS the Son of God,
– that All people WILL eventually die,
– that The Holy Spirit WILL bring us the strength to carry whatever our crosses
in life may be.  And despite whatever those crosses are, we can still find peace and happiness in Jesus.  And we know this, as a certainty, because Jesus told us that, Blessed are those who have Not seen and have believed.

You see, Faith truly is ‘a Life-changing experience,’
because through it, we become –
Blessed.

As that “Community of Blessed Believers,” we are ALL called to strengthen the
faith of one another.  And we do this, by sharing our personal faith experiences together.
You know, those simple little things that we don’t often give a second thought to:

Like the time “I prayed for Jesus to heal my sister, and she was healed.”
Like the time “I saw the Holy Spirit Light up the eyes of one of my students,
from a simple word or question.”

Like the time “I felt strengthened by your prayers in the middle of my test,
and came back to say – Thanks.”

Or, like every time I open up the Book and find, “that I’m reading the events
of my very own life – in that Bible story, written thousands of years ago.”

You see, Jesus wants us to become Comfortable – with speaking His Name
outside of these Church walls.

Jesus wants us to Learn about the Changes that His Name has brought,
not only to ‘the Twelve,’ but to millions who followed in their footsteps.

And when we can hand over, just an inkling of OUR precious control
to the Holy Spirit within us, then we WILL truly discoverLIFE,
that fullness of LIFE that Jesus promises each and every one of us,
who BELIEVES!

jmp 04-07-13

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Scripture Readings for the Mass of 04-07-13
Second Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy), C

First Reading:  Acts 5:12-16

Many signs and wonders were done among the people at the hands of the apostles. They were all together in Solomon’s portico. None of the others dared to join them, but the people esteemed them. Yet more than ever, believers in the Lord, great numbers of men and women, were added to them. Thus they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and mats so that when Peter came by, at least his shadow might fall on one or another of them. A large number of people from the towns in the vicinity of Jerusalem also gathered, bringing the sick and those disturbed by unclean spirits, and they were all cured.

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24

R. Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love is everlasting
Let the house of Israel say, “His mercy endures forever.” Let the house of Aaron say, “His mercy endures forever.” Let those who fear the LORD say,“His mercy endures forever.”
R.
I was hard pressed and was falling, but the LORD helped me. My strength and my courage is the LORD, and he has been my savior. The joyful shout of victory in the tents of the just.
R.
The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. By the LORD has this been done; it is wonderful in our eyes. This is the day the LORD has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it. 
R.

Second Reading: Rev 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19

I, John, your brother, who share with you the distress, the kingdom, and the endurance we have in Jesus, found myself on the island called Patmos because I proclaimed God’s word and gave testimony to Jesus.

I was caught up in spirit on the Lord’s day and heard behind me a voice as loud as a trumpet, which said, “Write on a scroll what you see.” Then I turned to see whose voice it was that spoke to me, and when I turned, I saw seven gold lampstands and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, wearing an ankle-length robe, with a gold sash around his chest. When I caught sight of him, I fell down at his feet as though dead. He touched me with his right hand and said, “Do not be afraid. I am the first and the last, the one who lives. Once I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever. I hold the keys to death and the netherworld.

Write down, therefore, what you have seen, and what is happening, and what will happen afterwards.”

Gospel: Jn 20:19-31

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”  Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.

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