2nd Sunday of Easter Homily
“This is a different Easter…!” Probably the most popular comment that I receive when speaking to people on the phone. For us, yes it has been different in so many obvious ways. However, was it so different for those who were part of the First Easter? In the very first line of today’s Gospel, we hear how the followers of Jesus were “behind a locked door for fear of the Jews.” Those first followers were like all us today: hidden away, fearful of others (social distancing), not knowing what was going to happen next. We can easily imagine the fear, isolation, and doubt that they would have had.
And yet, we know from this early experience of the Resurrection the goodness that came forth. These followers did not give up, despite their fears they persevered, with the support of others they stuck it out, to experience the coming of the Holy Spirit and Ascension of Jesus… all leading to a new way of being the People of God. The Resurrection of Jesus is pivotal to Christian faith. It’s why, at the most solemn moment during Mass, the priest invites us to proclaim: “The mystery of Faith!” and we respond: “Christ has died, Christ is RISEN, Christ will come again!”
We all know of people who don’t take their faith seriously. Many live as if Jesus had not risen at all. Many in society believe that we live and then we die… the end! But as Christians, we know that is not so. Jesus’ story ends with Good News! Death does not have the last word! Jesus conquered death with his Resurrection. And this Gospel message is still going on, even in this difficult time with this pandemic of Covid-19.
Again, the Word of God sheds light even in this moment when we are all experiencing fear and anxiety, and we are locked in our homes. It is only human to be afraid. Again, as we heard in the first line of today’s Gospel, “They all gathered together behind locked doors, because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities” (Jn 20:19). They were behind closed doors like all of us. But what happened next? John says, “Then Jesus came and stood among them and told them, ‘Peace be with you’. When the disciples saw him they were filled with joy.” My dear friends, this same Jesus, who “promised to be with us till the end of time” (Matt 28:20), is still with us. He wants to come into our households, into our hearts, into our fears, loneliness and anxieties. He wants to assure us that he is alive and stands among us. This is Good News! Jesus says to us, what he said to Thomas, “Do not doubt, but believe.”
Jesus wants to give us his peace — “the peace that the world cannot give”. It’s the peace and the same assurance felt by the sheep that we read about in Psalm 23. “Even if I go through the valley of darkness, I will not be afraid – why? – for You are with me, Lord” (v. 4). My dear sisters and brothers, I urge you to call upon your faith and do not be afraid. Let us turn to God in prayer like the disciples did in the upper room. Yes we are anxious and we’re all looking for answers. However, let us focus on the positive things that are happening during this pandemic: a welcomed phone call, a prayer said for another, and so on. In the First Reading for today, we see this same goodness happening. The early followers are growing into one community as evident in their goodness to one another. “Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done…” (Acts2:43). In these difficult times, I encourage you to pray for one another; do what you can; if you have a Parish Directory, pick a family or a person each day, and pray for them. Call someone you know who is alone, let them know that you are thinking about them and praying for them. As well, remembering our Lenten theme, “Laughter and Love,” share a laugh with someone. It is one of greatest way to bring the “Peace of Jesus” to others!
I want you to know that I miss you very much and that I am keeping you all in my daily prayers. May you continue to embrace the peace that the risen Jesus offers. Yes, this is a ‘different Easter’ for us but these turbulent times will pass and when they do, we will be stronger is so many ways… just like those first followers of Jesus!