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Contents: Volume 2 - 2nd Sunday of EASTER (B)
- April 11, 2021 - Divine Mercy Sunday

 

 2nd

SUNDAY

EASTER

B


1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP

4. --

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

 

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2nd Sunday of Easter 2021

The Gospel story told according to John is about the appearance of the Risen Lord to the apostles when Thomas was not present and then again when he was. The apostles were still quite distraught and confused over the death of their beloved Jesus when their wavering belief got a booster shot from Jesus himself. Thomas had to wait a bit, needing that "something else" that was first given to the other apostles.

In times of distress, our minds do unusual things. I think we fear more, question more, doubt more.... are more human and less thoughtful than usual. Those are the times we need to rely more on our spiritual foundation, but probably do so less than we should. Jesus understood that. Jesus was gentle with Thomas and is also gentle with us.

I think there is a slight difference between belief and faith, the latter being stronger and often needing that booster shot to keep it long lasting. We are all still in the midst of a bit of worldwide chaos with the pandemic. Things are better in some place due to vaccines, but certainly not worldwide, for sure. We believe...but do we have the strong faith to be firm in our resolve to be hopeful and helpful?

Easter is certainly a booster shot for all Christians, reminding us of hope where distress seemed to prevail. Our first reading tells us of the tranquility that the first communities of faith had early on after the Resurrection. What can we do to regain that symbolic feeling, but also deep down caring for one another to mirror that kind of Easter response?

Easter is not just a day or a season. We are an Easter people!! It may not "feel" that way each and every day, but we hold the Risen Lord close to us... or, better yet, the Risen Lord lifts us up to Him!

During this time of worldwide need, let us try to make it a time to rejoice in the faith that we, too, will rise from the distress of life, if not now, then in the hereafter. May we bring that joy, softly and gently, to an ailing world, one person at a time. May our belief in the Risen Lord shine forth as a strong faith that God will indeed do what has been promised.

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

 

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Second Sunday of Easter April 11 2021

Sunday of Divine Mercy

Acts 4:32-35; Responsorial Psalm 118; 1st John 5:1-6; Gospel Acclamation John 20:29; John 20:19-31

This time after Easter is called the Mystagogia. That is Greek meaning, "walking around in the mysteries." It is applied to those who at Easter Vigil were baptized into the Community or, if already baptized in another faith tradition, were received into the Community. This period, from Easter Vigil till the vigil of Pentecost – these fifty days – are a period of further study, of prayer, and of experiencing the fellowship of the Community. It is a period of intense prayer especially within the liturgies of Easter Season. It is a time for discovering the Lord in daily living. Those of us already members of the Church Community are invited to share in this "walking around in the mysteries." Lent is over, the preparation for remembering the mysteries of our faith and especially of the cross, is complete and has borne fruit in our spirits.

This Second Sunday of Easter is designated Divine Mercy Sunday. It was assigned by St. John Paul II to be remembered on the second Sunday of Easter.

When we reflect on the great compassion, loving kindness, and mercy of God we prone to sinfulness. Contemporary faith practices tend to focus on conscience, moral law, and church-imposed regulations. As a result, reflect with gratitude on our need for God’s largesse. This year let us look in a different direction. What will happen within us if we reflect on what God is like in his loving kindness, compassion, and mercy? The Incarnation, the ministry of Jesus to the people of Galilee and Judaea are the ultimate revelation of what God is. When we think about the ministry of Jesus, we begin to understand that Jesus focused his teachings, his miracles, and his relationships with others on living human life as would God. Regulations, failures, even terrible sins were forgiven. The damaged part of humanity was healed. Persons kicked out of the life of a community were returned to that community to share in its life. All these stories, these miracles, these lessons, these relationships are instructions on how to imitate the Son of God. These lessons are instructions to us on how best to live the very life of God here on earth. This is not merely a matter of a frightening judgment at the end of life. Life now is what is important. Life now is how we become in our spirit what the seed of life that God planted in time and space was meant to become. We are unique of all creation; in that we can choose the arc of our living. It may take many possible avenues but in each choice the lessons of how to walk those streets and trails are ours in the example of the ministry and the death and rising of the Lord. That is the thrust of our mystagogia.

The first reading, this Divine Mercy Sunday, tells us just that. How do we personally live the life of God now? As we listen to the proclamation of the Acts of the Apostles, we likely think Luke was exaggerating about the idyllic life relationships of those first Christians. What Luke observed is that these Christians who believed in Jesus had an intense commitment to each other. It was more than a commitment. They accepted it as a responsibility to the others. And in that acceptance of responsibility for one another they experienced a real desire to share with the members of the community all they had. In this way they expressed the love they had for one another. In this way they lived the life of God. For the life of God is powered and infused by unconditional love. Rules, commandments, regulations merely demand compliance. This is far short of what love insists. Married persons who work on their marriages understand what love is. Nothing can overcome it. Errors in judgment, failures, stress are overcome by the love of the partners in marriage. Those of us who live our marriage know its difficulties and its unbounded and indescribable joy. They know its crosses and its resurrections. They know the love that is the secret, the mystery of the Life of God in the here-and-now.

If we believe this reading from Acts, we will understand that Divine Mercy Sunday is not about us receiving Mercy. It is about us applying the Mercy of God to all those we encounter. If we understand how amazing was the Mercy of God that would incarnate his Son as a person whose dual nature of divinity and humanity would reveal what God is for us, with us, and in us. I think it is Paul who characterizes this by saying that "he did not think clinging to his divinity was necessary but chose to humble himself becoming human."

The Gospel presents us with two scenes. The first is on the first day of the week – the first Easter Sunday. Jesus just shows up, no fanfare, no trumpets, no tympani, no knocking on the door. He suddenly is there, just as he is often suddenly with us. For us to recognize Jesus, we must be prepared to know that he is with us forever as he promised. We will know his presence only if we are prepared to recognize and engage him. He is surely present at liturgy – in the Word proclaimed, in the ordinary gifts we bring to the altar which are consecrated by the Spirit of God to be shared as His body and His blood. We know he is present in the assembly where there are "two or more gathered in his name." Jesus greets them with the traditional Middle Eastern greeting – Peace be with you "Shalom Aleichem." This peace is not the absent of conflict. It is a greeting wishing the best of everything.

But then follows the commissioning of the disciples. They are to go out and teach, to preach, to heal by announcing the gospel. They are to open the eyes of those blinded, those whose ears are stuffed, those whose hearts are hardened like stones. The way of the world does that to us. It robs us of what is essential to human life. That which is essential is relationships powered by love. It is the heart of flesh that embraces others and the created world.

The announcement, the gospel they are to preach is the good news of mercy. In our faults, in our missteps, in our sins we do damage to our spirits. No person can forgive, wipe away the effects of bad choices, evil inclinations, or sin. Once we begin a path of evil, it takes more energy, more power than we possess to find a pathway of goodness. Mercy provides forgiveness. No person, no individual man can forgive violations against God’s creation. We cannot forget that our uniqueness, our individuality is God’s doing. Only God can forgive the harm we have done to his workings. Jesus gives the disciples the ability to express to us individually and collectively God’s forgiveness. Forgiveness is a gift that only those who repent can receive. God continually calls to us to return to his mercy. It’s not something we can choose. We can only respond to God’s call and his offer of mercy. It is given to the disciples to discern in those seeking forgiveness whether or not there is before them a repentant heart. God always extends forgiveness. That is the good news. That commissioning of mercy is not only extended to the disciples in the upper room. The availability of mercy is ours to give. Well, more than that. It is our obligation as followers of the Lord to extend mercy to all we encounter. It is a central hallmark of the Kingdom of God that mercy, loving kindness, and compassion come to all persons through the followers of the Lord. God loves and respects creation. He makes use of creation to call, to heal, to teach, and to give each what is needed for them to flourish. That is how we must live in whatever choices we make in this life. That is how we discover God in ourselves, in others, and in the universe where we have been planted.

The second scene in our gospel this week-end is the story of the doubting Thomas. That story is a message to us. Even though we have difficulty finding Jesus present in our day to day living, it is through faith that we discover him walking with us. Thomas could not comprehend Jesus could be alive. He knew Jesus died on the cross. But he was absent from the upper room on that Easter Sunday. Where was he? Was he making plans for a different life? Was he so overcome with the loss of Jesus that he mourned in solitude? We do not know. But we do know that he was not lacking in courage. He is the one who said he would go with Jesus to Jerusalem where he would die with Jesus. In his mercy, Jesus came to the upper room again on the Second Sunday. He sought out Thomas and encouraged his faith. It was an act of mercy to one whose heart was broken.

Thomas went on, as legend tells us, to preach in the lands of India. Even today, there is a place in southern India that lays claim to its founding by the Apostle Thomas.

As we reflect on the liturgy of the Word on this Second Sunday of Easter, let us think not so much about our being recipients of God’s mercy. Of that we are assured. Let us think about how we can extend God’s mercy to all events and all persons we encounter in our work, in our play, in our communities, and most importantly in our families. Mercy, compassion, and loving kindness are the traits of our Creator in dealing with us. If we wish to live the life of God now and in eternity, then we must even now practice the traits of our Lord and God. We are commissioned as were the apostles and disciples. Let it be so.

Carol & Dennis Keller dkeller002@nc.rr.com

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JESUS’ EASTER GIFT: 2ND SUNDAY OF EASTER B

‘Jesus breathed on them and said: "Receive the Holy Spirit" ‘(Jn 20:22)

Easter means a great deal more than Easter bunnies, Easter eggs, and Easter parades. As outward signs of joy and hope, they have a place. But they only skim the surface of what Easter truly means, at least for Christians. It means what must happen to us, because of what happened to Jesus. The Risen Lord must rise in us - in our minds, attitudes, hearts, and actions - if Easter is to happen to us. So much so, that Sister Joan Chittister suggests that our celebration of Easter puts before us a 'momentous question': 'Will we,’ she asks, ‘touched by Jesus now rise and do things differently?' She spells out what this might mean:

... we must be prepared to be surprised by God in strange places, in ways we never thought we'd see and through the words of those we never thought we'd hear. …It presumes that we will reach out to the other - to the ... immigrants and the blacks, to the strangers, the prisoners and the poor - in order to discover what visions to see with them, what cries to cry for them, what stones to move from the front of their graves.

The Word of God today spells out HOW Jesus both can and does easter in us. Particularly telling are these words of Jesus to his followers, words which go with his gift. They are the words: 'RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT.' Recalling them today reminds us that the Risen Lord is with us now and until the end of time, in the form and person of the Holy Spirit.

This is an important aspect of our Easter Faith; one we declare every Sunday when we state In the Creed: ‘I believe in the Holy Spirit.' But if asked to explain what we mean, perhaps we would become tongue-tied. Part of our difficulty is that we cannot imagine or picture the Holy Spirit as easily as we can put a face on the Father and the Son. We all know fathers and mothers and their children, and this helps us to think of God as Father and Mother and to think of Jesus as God's Son. But we simply cannot put a face on the Holy Spirit.

But the Holy Spirit is just as real, and some images may help us realize that. The Hebrew word for 'spirit' means 'wind 'or 'breath' and occurs 378 times in the Old Testament alone. So, in sharing his own Spirit with them, Jesus first breathes on his gathered apostles. Earlier he said that like the wind, the Spirit of God 'blows where it chooses' (John 3:8). In fact, all his teaching on the Spirit suggests that like the wind, the Spirit that is God’s Love in person moves things along, warms them into life, drives them into action, and changes situations for the better. In a particularly beautiful song, Andrew Lloyd Webber puts it this way: ‘Love, it changes everything.’

We do not experience the Spirit of God directly but in its effects on us. So much so that we can say that the Holy Spirit is the power of God and the love of God at work in our lives. To speak this way is to speak of grace. The grace that is the Holy Spirit gets things done in God's way – in ourselves, in our Church, and in our world. All through the Acts of the Apostles (that New Testament book we read all through Easter), Luke highlights the Holy Spirit as the chief apostle, the divine apostle behind the human apostles. The Spirit keeps prompting them, guiding them, energizing them, restraining them, reassuring them, challenging them, and comforting them. Time and time again, they sense the Spirit saying to them: 'Do this, do that', 'Go here, go there’, etc., etc.

What a gift, what a wonderful gift! The very same Spirit of God who formed Jesus in the womb of Mary his mother, the very same Spirit of God who empowered him at Baptism to go about doing good and healing all sorts of wounded and troubled people, the very same Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead, has been shared with you and with me! So that yesterday, today, and tomorrow, we can be the comforting, healing, and life-giving presence of Jesus to all kinds of people!

This Easter gift of the Holy Spirit from Jesus to his followers, ought, then, fill us with that same peace and joy, that same exuberance and enthusiasm, that led St Augustine to shout out loud: 'We are an Easter people and Alleluia [praise God] is our song!'

Just imagine! Jesus Christ keeps coming to us as the power and influence of the Holy Spirit, his second self, to change us for the better, and to keep sending us out to make a better world! And particularly now, when acts of outreach, kindness, and support, to persons in social isolation from COVID-19, have never meant so much, and have never been so highly valued and so warmly received!

Simply amazing! Utterly awesome!

"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.

-- Fr. John Boll, OP


 

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Volume II Archive

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ASCENSION 6 EASTER (B) 5 EASTER (B) 4 EASTER (B) 3 EASTER (B) 2 EASTER (B)


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