2015-04-12, 2nd Easter B (Divine Mercy Sunday), Real Friends,

Homily 04-12-15
2nd Sunday Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday), B
Acts 4:32-35; Ps 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24; 1 Jn 5:1-6; Jn 20:19-31

(Scriptures included after homily)

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They say that we can tell who our “real friends” are, only after we’ve been together through an ordeal.  And the premise of that saying, is that we are expecting something from those friends – that they may not even be aware of.

Which leads us to the question:
“Who are WE  “real friends” to?

You see, Jesus and His specially selected disciples had been through all kinds of ordeals:
– Storms at sea,
– Crowds of sick people,
– Verbally abusive religious leaders,
– Exhausting and unproductive fishing expeditions,
– and even Masses of hungry people.

They had watched:
– the Lame walk,
– the Lepers healed,
– the Blind see,
– the Hungry fed,
– and the Dead revived.

They ate together, prayed together, and even witnessed some pretty unnatural physical phenomena (water to wine, walking on water, transfiguration of Jesus and the raising of Lazarus) in their few short years together.  And, after all that, we might have expected that the disciples would have been well-prepared to face – just about anything, together with Jesus.  Yet, when push came to shove, those same disciples disappeared like ‘cats in a rainstorm,’ after Jesus was arrested.  The skeptic would say, “With friends like that, who needs enemies?”

And yet, where was the first place that Jesus went after His Resurrection?  Why, He went right back to those same ‘deserting’ disciples.  And it took a little convincing for them to finally believe that it really was Jesus.

We might wonder why, after all those miracles that Jesus had shown them, why this Resurrection would have been such a surprise?  Where was their belief, their faith?

But then, we might ask ourselves the same question . . .  In this world that we live in, how much of what we see or hear today, do WE actually believe?  We’ve learned, through experience, that we have to be very discerning, because pictures can be ‘Photo-Shopped,’ stories can be exaggerated and words can be so twisted, that it’s hard to believe anything we hear or see.

And yet, remember, those disciples were still in ‘shell shock,’ both over the death of Jesus and the very real threat to their own lives.

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Imagine going to a college for 3-years to become a Freedom Fighter.  And in your mind, you’ve got your own preconceived notion of what a Freedom Fighter really is.  And even though there are undercurrents of contradiction in what you’re learning, you ignore it all, because your heart is set on being the very best Freedom Fighter there ever was.

Then in your last year, just days before graduation, your college closes its doors, because the world around it has decided that it prefers – slavery to freedom.  And it proclaims that all Freedom Fighters must be eliminated.  And everything that you’ve strived for, after all those years, seems to be lost.  And you ask yourself,

“Now what?”

You see, this was EXACTLY the situation the disciples were in.

And Jesus’ contradiction of their preconceived notions of what  “true freedom” really is, never struck home until after “school was over.”  And it didn’t have anything to do with what THEY did for Jesus – through His ordeal.  But it had everything to do with what HE did for them, and for us, through this ordeal we call life, in the days, and centuries, and millennia after His resurrection.

And it all began with those simple words:
“Peace be with you!”

You see, Freedom isn’t about forcing our ideology on other people.  It isn’t about being best or first, or rich or famous.  But, just as Jesus modeled for us, Freedom IS about Listening and Loving.  It’s about washing feet and sharing EVERYTHING.

It’s about mercyforgiveness and prayer, even for those ‘friends’ who desert and persecute us.

Freedom is about feeding the hungry, being eyes for the blind, calming the storms and opening doors for others.

And Freedom is about believing, even when believing might seem useless or impossible.  Remember, the Angel Gabriel said to Mary that, “Nothing will be impossible for God.” (Lk 1:37)  And just as the Holy Spirit came upon Mary, and “the Power of the Most High overshadowed her,” so will it be done for us in the times of our greatest need!

If we still seem to be wandering the world, in search of that ‘perfectly real friend,‘ then we’ve come to the right place, because Jesus asks nothing more of us than to place our trust, our faith, our belief in Him.  And in return, He WILL BE with us for ever.  Through thick or thin, through water (Baptism) and blood (Eucharist), as ONE in heart and mind, together we WILL conquer the world in Freedom and in Love.

On this Divine Mercy Sunday, brothers and sisters in Christ, we proclaim, with the Psalmist to the world:

“This is the day the Lord has made,
let us be glad and rejoice in it!”

jmp 04-12-15
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Scripture Readings for the Mass of 04-12-15
The Second Sunday of Easter, Cycle B
Divine Mercy Sunday

First ReadingActs 4:32-35

The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had  everything in common.  With great power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all.

There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need.

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:  1 Jn 5:1-6

Beloved: Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God, and everyone who loves the Father loves also the one begotten by him.  In this way we know that we love the children of God when we love God and obey his commandments.  For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments. 

And his commandments are not burdensome, for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.  And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.  Who indeed is the victor over the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

This is the one who came through water and blood, Jesus Christ, not by water alone, but by water and blood.  The Spirit is the one that testifies, and the Spirit is truth.

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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