The Risen Christ Is The Cause Of Our Joy: Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
Readings: 1st: Acts 2: 42-47; Ps 117: 2-4. 13-24; 2nd: 1Pt 1: 3-9; Gos Jh 20: 19-31)
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans), Province of Nigeria South East. He is currently the Parochial Vicar of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church Woliwo Onitsha, Anambra State, Nigeria. For more details and comments contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
Today is the 2nd Sunday of Easter Season Year A, and by the grace of God also the Divine Mercy Sunday. On this special Sunday the Church amidst bearing of witness to the resurrection of Christ continues to cherish and relish in the joy of the season. In a special way, she enjoins us her faithful to continue to spread the good news that Christ our Lord has truly risen against the false testimonies of the chief priests, leaders, all those who conspired to crucify Christ, and of course the doubting Thomas’ of our time. We are called to celebrate the risen Christ the first fruit of all those who have fallen asleep, the hope of Christians, and the Cause of Our Joy. We must respond fully to the call of the Church this season to rejoice in the glory that is ours. Most importantly, we must give thanks to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who out of his mercy and generosity called us to have a share in the glory of Christ’s resurrection as well as to his kingdom. We are indeed an alleluia people, and Christ is the cause of our joy this season!
Today’s first reading from Acts 2: 42-47 recounts the new zeal, the new love, the new spirit that enveloped the early Christian community. A people who used to be afraid of the Jews and persecution, now have been transformed to a courageous people. They are now proud of who they are and their new heritage. This heritage is their sharing in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He is the cause of their joy, love, unity and strength to witness. This is what the resurrection of Christ did for us also. It restores our confidence as a people of God. It lifts us from the dust and places us exactly where we belong. In short, it reinstates us. His resurrection restores joy and brightens our future as we sang during the Easter Exultet: “The Power of this holy night dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy; it castes out hatred, brings us peace…” We are therefore now empowered and equipped in order to go out and continue to bear witness to the risen Christ.
In the second reading of this Sunday from 1Pt 1: 3-9, Peter draws our attention to the gratuitous mercy of God towards us. This mercy culminates in his “giving us new birth as his sons (and daughters),” by allowing us share in the resurrection of his beloved son Jesus Christ from the dead “so that we have a sure hope and the promise of an inheritance that can never be spoilt or soiled and never fades away because it is being kept for you in the heavens.” We must be mindful of what Paul tries to communicate to us here this Easter season. Although we have a promise and a guarantee that this promise will not fail, we ourselves have a role to work towards this gratuitous promise in order to fulfill the hope we have. Christ has already opened the way of salvation for all of us children of God, but we have to “grab it.” That is the effort we need to get there. However, whether we take it or not does not change the fact that Christ has through his resurrection opened the doors of salvation. Heaven is guaranteed for all true children of God who abide in the will of God by bearing witness to the fact that Jesus is risen and is Lord both of the living and the dead. The necessary tool or requirement for taking this salvation according to Peter therefore, is Faith. “Through your faith God’s power will guard you until the salvation which has been prepared for you is revealed at the end of time. This is a cause of great joy for you…” Yes, it is rightly so, because only faith can grant us the fullness of a share in the resurrection of Christ, since we did not see Christ physically but believe, we have a sure blessing as Christ himself said: “Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believe” (John 20, 29).
In today’s gospel Christ presented himself before his disciples and equally dispelled Thomas’ fear and doubt. He bestowed important gifts on his disciples, the gift of peace, the breath of the Holy Spirit, and of course commissioned them as “Sacramental Ministers” of the Sacrament of Penance, and workers in the vine yard. In this reading, we must take note of the action of the “patron saint of doubter and skeptics – St. Thomas.” He did not find it easy to believe that Christ is risen. He vehemently refused the testimonies of the other disciples and worst still, when Christ himself appeared, he did not believe it was him until he touched and felt his parts and nail marks. As we witness to the good news, there definitely will be those who must doubt and make things difficult. In spite of all these, we must ask God to convince them by himself as he did to Thomas today. Let us not be bothered by their unbelief or stubbornness. All we need do is simply to pass on the message and leave Christ the risen Lord to convince them. This is because there is no amount of arguments or talk from the disciples that would have convinced Thomas had Christ himself not done it. In order words, it is Christ himself who confirms the testimony and witness we bear. He does it in his own way and at his own time in the life of those we witness to. So, like the disciples and apostles of Christ, let us continue by the power of the Holy Spirit with which Christ commissioned us today to continue to announce to the whole world that Jesus Christ is truly risen from the dead. He is the cause of our joy this season! We must not be bothered about the many Thomas’ we encounter in the course of bearing our witness to the risen Lord because he knows how to take care of, and convince them. So, my dear friends because of what God has done for us this season let us join the Psalmist to: “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love endures forever. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
Peace be with you all!!