Thu, 16 Apr 20 Lectio Divina - Year A
Acts 2:42-47, 1Pt:1:3-9, Jn 20: 19-31.
Faith is a theme that runs through our readings of the 2nd Sunday of Easter. In the First Reading, we hear the results of the faith of the first Christians, who came to believe in Jesus, following the coming of the Holy Spirit.
In the Second Reading, St. Peter speaks about the importance of faith, especially in times of trial and testing. And in the Gospel, the Risen Lord Jesus appears to the apostles to strengthen their faith in His being with them. He also shares with them a gift of faith – the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Shalom peace and reconciliation.
The first Christian take their gift of faith and live different lives. They devote themselves to the Way of Christ with four important activities:
In listening to the teaching of the apostles, the early Christian show the importance of Christian tradition. The apostles had spent a lot of quality time with Jesus during His public ministry. Jesus had shared special insights with them that He had not shared with the crowds. After receiving the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, the apostles reflect with new wisdom upon the life, ministry, teaching, death, and resurrection of Jesus. The apostles hand down these events, particularly to those who had not experienced the Lord Jesus as closely as the apostles had. The faith of the early believers is based upon the faith of the apostles. Faith leads to more people believing. Faith is not a static thing between a believer and God; it is an active process that spreads out to others.
The sharing of possessions with one another was another manifestation of the early Christians' belief in Jesus, the Son of God. As they respond to Jesus and His invitation to call God "Abba" they realize that they are brothers and sisters of Jesus and need to care for each other as sisters and brothers. Faith leads to the true community – "being one with." Faith is not just a personal relationship with Jesus, it is a relationship with others who come together in the name of Jesus.
Part of the way the early Christians mark their unity is in the breaking of bread. They gather for a meal in which they remember, celebrate, and believe what Jesus did at the Last Supper. They re-enact and make present Jesus' words over the broken bread: "Take this, this is My Body. Do it in memory of Me." They experience their Master-Teacher, their Risen Lord, in the breaking of the bread. They receive their Lord and are in communion with Jesus and, through Him, with one another.
The fourth way the early Christians live out their belief is in prayer. They devote themselves to being in a relationship with Jesus, the Abba, and the Holy Spirit. They praise GOD for sending Jesus as Savior. They contritely admit their failings and their need for Jesus as Savior. They give thanks to God for what God has done, is doing, and will continue to do on their behalf. And they petition God for their own needs and the needs of others. Prayer is an important part of their faith relationship with Jesus.
In our Second Reading, St. Peter in his letter speaks about faith. Peter speaks about the hope, inheritance, and salvation, which have come to those who believe. Peter reminds believers that faith, which is more valuable than gold, often has to be refined by trial, such as gold is refined in the furnace. Faith is purified by being tested. The tried and true faith, which is not based on sight or other senses, leads to salvation – and indescribable joy. All this is a result of Jesus' resurrection!
The Gospel today spans Easter Week from Easter Sunday until the following Sunday. The first part is Jesus' appearance to ten of the apostles on the day of His Resurrection. They are gathered in fear. They know that Jesus died three days before. They have heard that Jesus is alive and has appeared to some of the female followers. Peter and John have been to the empty tomb. Peter still does not understand or fully believe that Jesus is alive.
All of a sudden, Jesus appears to them even though the doors are locked. His first gift of faith to them is the gift of Shalom. Shalom means not only "peace" but also "reconciliation and restored relationship." Jesus does not question them about their denial and desertion. He does not ask them why they have not believed even though some of the followers have seen the Risen Lord or been to the empty tomb. Jesus speaks of being back with them, now in an even more glorified way. He also imparts to them the Ruah the Spirit of God, the Breath of God. Jesus gives them gifts, which come from renewed faith – the gift of the Spirit and gift of reconciliation. Not only are they forgiven, but they are to be ambassadors of Shalom – peace, and reconciliation – to announce forgiveness to others.
They are excited at the presence of the Risen Lord with them. After Jesus leaves them, Thomas returns and the other ten tells Thomas that Jesus has been with them. Thomas remains an unbeliever for the next seven days since Jesus does not manifest Himself again to them for a week. It is only when Thomas sees Jesus with the nail holes in His hands and feet that Thomas becomes a believer. Thomas declares his faith in one of the most powerful phrases: "My Lord and my GOD!" Thomas realizes that Jesus is not only the resurrected preacher Whom Thomas has been following. Thomas now sees the whole picture. He professes that Jesus is one with God
This faith relationship, although divine in origin, has been handed down to us by those who have gone before us in faith. It is the Spirit of God Who picks me up when I am down. It is this same Spirit Who makes us an ambassador of Shalom to others, a part of the Tradition.