Second Sunday of Easter
Have you ever wondered why we observe Sunday as a holy day
rather than Saturday/Sabbath even though the 3rd commandment says
"Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy."
The answer is traceable to the many appearances of our Risen Lord Jesus to
His disciples. Jesus rose from the dead on the
first day of the week, Sunday, and appeared to His disciples
on the same day in the evening. He did not appear to them again until
"a week after," i.e., the following Sunday.
All the recorded appearances of the risen Lord to the group of disciples took place on no other
day of the week than Sunday. Even the descent of the Holy Spirit
on the group of believers on Pentecost day took place on Sunday.
On account of this, the disciples came to see Sunday as the
"day of the Lord," meaning the day when the risen Lord
comes "physically" in the midst of His disciples
gathered together in prayer. Even after the Lord's ascension into
Heaven, the disciples continued to gather together in worship on
Sundays, in expectation that the Lord Jesus would appear
"spiritually" in their midst. We see this in the first reading where the apparition to
John on the island of Patmos takes place also on Sunday, as John writes,
"I was in the spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice saying, 'Write in a book what
you see and send it to the seven churches."
In the gospel we read about the appearance of the risen Lord in the assembly of the apostles on
the day of resurrection and a second appearance a week later. The
second appearance focuses on Thomas who was not present with the rest of the apostles when
Jesus appeared among them. Where could he have gone. We do not exactly know but as soon as he comes back
the other disciples told him that the have seen the Lord.
Could it be that when he heard that Jesus was risen from the dead
he went out on his own to seek Him out? Perhaps he went to the houses of Jesus'
friends, to the house of Lazarus, Martha and Mary in Bethany, to the village where they ate the last supper. He was seeking
Jesus alone while Jesus was with the
community of believers. Could it be that the evangelist's way of telling the reader that encountering the
risen Lord is something that happens not in the individual's private practice of religion but
in association with the community of believers?
So come the following Sunday and Thomas is there assembled together with the rest of the community.
Jesus appears as usual and Thomas experiences the desire of his heart and exclaims,
"My Lord and my God." Next time he will not miss the community
We do not have to look far around us to see so many Thomas's today -- men and women who deep down in their
hearts seek the risen Lord Jesus outside the
worshipping community. Instead they try to draw near to God by engaging in philanthropic deed and
self-imposed devotional exercise. Religion is personal, they say, and they are right. But religion is also communitarian, and this they
need to learn just as Thomas learnt.
Jesus in today's gospel commissions the apostles to forgive
sins. This is a function that can be exercised only where there is a believing
community, or else each of them would be absolving their own personal sins.
Today's Thomas's often do not appreciate this avenue of reconciliation with God
and with the community that is affected by our sins. May the success story of Thomas help us all to
appreciate the important role of the Church in our search for the risen Lord Who
will transform this doggy-doggy life with meaning.
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