Life & Soul Life and Soul

The Resurrection is only the beginning

The Apocalypse of St John the Evangelist on the Island of Patmos (1563), by Jan Massys

Second Sunday of Easter
Acts 5:12-16; Rev 1:9-13 & 17-19; John 20:19-31 (Year C)

The Gospels conclude with the Resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday. This is scarcely the end of the story. The Acts of the Apostles, together with the letters of the New Testament, take up the narrative of Christ’s Risen Presence as the driving force of the early Church. Like those early Christians, we are challenged to acknowledge the Risen Christ at work in our congregations, to become living signs of his Resurrection.

The Acts of the Apostles gave witness to Christ’s presence through the signs and wonders worked through the Apostles in the name of Jesus. “People even came crowding in from the towns round about Jerusalem, bringing with them their sick and those tormented by unclean spirits, and all of them were cured.”

We cannot presume to emulate the wonders worked by the Apostles but, in the Spirit of the Risen Lord, we must become healing communities. Sadly, through sin and petty divisions, we have frequently become wounded communities. Let us pray for the healing of the Risen Lord, for ourselves and those we have harmed.

The Book of Revelation, in its first chapter, reminds us that the Risen Lord was at work in the suffering of the early Church. “My name is John, and, through our union with Jesus I am your brother and share your sufferings, your kingdom and all that you endure.”

These words were written from exile on the island of Patmos during the darkest days of the Church’s earliest persecutions. At a time when suffering threatened to extinguish the very heart of faith, the Book of Revelation became a confident reassertion of the Risen Christ in the midst of a suffering people. “Do not be afraid; it is I, the First and the Last; I am the Living One. I was dead, and now I live forever.”

In a different way the Church today is living through the darkest of times. With humility let us surrender ourselves to the presence of that same living Lord. He alone has the power to lead us through all that has died within us.

The Gospel describes the appearance of the Risen Lord to forlorn disciples. They had fled the darkness of Good Friday, prisoners of their own frailty and uncertainty. “In the evening of that same day, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews.”

Christ alone had the power to transform their turmoil into his peace. May our wounded Church be raised up in the same healing and peace. “He said to them ‘Peace be with you.’ The disciples were filled with joy. After saying this he breathed on them and said. Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven.”