Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24
1 Peter 1:3-9
In the first reading, we see a glimpse of the early life of the Church. The disciples of Jesus devote themselves to four things. First, they listened to the teaching of the apostles, who narrated their experiences with Jesus and recalled his words. They began to connect the promises of the Old Testament to their fulfillment in Jesus. And just as Jesus worked many signs so that the people would believe in him and accept his word, so the apostles worked many signs and wonders in the presence of the people.
Second, Jesus’ disciples lived a common life. They had all things in common and they would sell their property and possessions and divide everything among all according to the needs of each. Their spiritual unity led to sharing their material possessions. “This sharing, in direct contrast to the human tendency toward possessiveness, is a powerful testimony to the presence of the kingdom inaugurated by Jesus” (Kurz, Acts of the Apostles, 2:44-45). Third, the disciples celebrated the breaking of bread, the Eucharist, together in their homes. They fulfilled Jesus command at the Last Supper: “Do this in memory of me”. Lastly, the disciples devoted themselves to the prayers, and met together in the temple area. Peter and John, for example, will continue to go to the temple for afternoon prayer and the evening sacrifice. Through the Eucharist and prayer, they were united in mind and heart.
In the Gospel, John tells us about two appearances of the risen Jesus, possibly taking place in the upper room. The first takes place on the day of the Resurrection, the second a week later. Thomas the apostle is not present at the first appearance. Sometimes, Thomas is called “doubting Thomas”, but in truth all of the apostles except John were slow to believe. The Gospel of Mark tells us that Jesus rebuked the eleven for their unbelief. They didn’t believe Mary Magdalene when she told them that she had seen the risen Lord; they didn’t believe the two disciples who met Jesus on the way to Emmaus and recognized him in the breaking of the bread. Likewise, Thomas does not believe until he sees what the other disciples saw. Jesus shows his hands and his side to the disciples. This is important because the body of the risen Christ was different. Showing the nail holes and the opened side gives evidence of a continuity. The risen Jesus is different but is the same person who was with them for three years during his public ministry.
Jesus gives two gifts to his disciples. The first is the gift of peace, which is a consequence of a covenant. In this case, this is the peace of the new covenant in Jesus’ blood. In the mass, we recall this peace right before communion. “Lord Jesus Christ, who said to your apostles: peace I leave you, my peace I give you; look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church, and graciously grant her peace and unity in accordance with your will”. Through faith and baptism we enter into the new covenant with Jesus and are reconciled with God. The second gift is the gift of the Holy Spirit and the authority to forgive sins. The Holy Spirit will guide the apostles to the fullness of truth about Jesus and his saving work. Jesus’ work of salvation is continued in the Church and in her Sacraments. Through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we are reconciled with God again and the Church is renewed in holiness.
In the second reading, Peter blesses God who has made the disciples of Jesus his children. God has granted new birth through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Reborn as sons and daughters of God we receive a divine inheritance. We begin to receive this inheritance here on earth and will receive it fully only in heaven. We rejoice because of this gift, yet still suffer on our journey through life. We do not yet see God face to face, and so we live by faith. We welcome God’s word in faith and in this God is praised, honored and glorified. The words of Jesus apply to us who did not see the risen Christ: “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed”.
Readers may contact Father Jason Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org.