SR-2019-04-28

SUNDAY MASS READINGS’ REFLECTIONS
2nd Sunday of Easter (Cycle C) – April 28, 2019


CHRIST IS RISEN!

EASTER TIME:
Liturgical Color – White (Stands for light, innocence, purity, joy, triumph, and glory.)
Purpose –
This is the great 50 days of joyful celebration of the Lord’s resurrection from the dead and ending with His sending forth of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

2nd Sunday of Easter Theme: Faith and Christian Fellowship.

On April 30, 2000, Saint John Paul II declared that “the 2nd Sunday of Easter henceforth throughout the Church will also be called the Divine Mercy Sunday.” The desire for this celebration and its timing, was expressed by Our Lord to Saint Faustina as can be found in her Diary (§699) “… My daughter, tell the whole world about My inconceivable mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners.”

Therefore, the focus for this Sunday is Divine Mercy along with the Lectionary’s ongoing Easter Season’s celebration of the victory of Jesus over sin, evil and death.

“May your faith be joyful, because it is based on awareness of possessing a divine gift from God.” (St. John Paul II). The Holy Spirit works within us to enlighten us, and help us to have the strength and courage to use our Free Will, to accept this divine gift. Accepting this gift of faith means we mature our faith through attaining knowledge of scripture along with Church attendance. The latter emphasizes the need for Christian Fellowship to help validate our faith.

The apostles grew their faith, together (in fellowship), by having direct observance of Jesus’ works of mercy and His miracles while He was with them. They, in turn, after Jesus resurrection taught the masses about these same things. And that continues today in our Churches. But our faith and Christian Fellowship does not have the benefit of direct observations of Jesus and His activities, so we have to learn and grow spiritually by our faith – as Jesus says in today’s Gospel about us: “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

“Faith is believing what you cannot see so that when you die you will be able to see what you believe”


Reading 1 Acts of the Apostles 5:12-16     Peter and the apostles, through their faith and fellowship, perform many signs and wonders.

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 118:2-4,13-15,22-24    This is a psalm of thanksgiving to God for His goodness, which endures forever.

Reading 2 – Revelation 1:9-11a,12-13,17-19     John describes the instruction he received, to write down his vision for the seven churches of Asia, for them to have faith and fellowship.

Gospel – John 20:19-31     Thomas believes because he sees Jesus and so shall we “see” him by our faith and Christian fellowship.


This Bible Study’s primary references used are from St Joseph Sunday Missal, LoyolaPress.com, CatholicCulture.org, Ascension Catholic Church Sunday Reflections, USCCB, Understanding the Scriptures by Scott Hahn, St Thomas Aquinas’ Works, RSV Oxford Annotated Bible, Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, St Charles Borromeo Bible Studies, LUMINA Bible Study, The Franciscans St. Anthony’s Guild, and Haydock’s Catholic Bible Commentary.

NOTE: The Lectionary Bible Readings for this Sunday – Readings 1 & 2, Responsorial Psalm, and the Gospel, all appear in purple in the following. Footnotes are included in these passages and the contents of all the footnotes appear at the end of this document. 

Reading 1     Acts of the Apostles 5:12-16                          (Signs and Wonders)

Today’s Reading – After Jesus’ ascension, the Apostles began preaching the ‘Good News” message of Christianity. Soon the people were attracted to this Message by the power of the Apostles’ ability to heal the sick and cast out demons as a powerful sign that God’s Spirit was acting in and through them. All of this helped mature the faith of the earlier Christians.


Many signs and wonders were done among the people at the hands of the apostles. They were all together in Solomon’s portico [i]. None of the others dared to join them, but the people esteemed them. Yet more than ever, believers in the Lord, great numbers of men and women, were added to them. Thus they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and mats so that when Peter came by, at least his shadow might fall on one or another of them. A large number of people from the towns in the vicinity of Jerusalem also gathered, bringing the sick and those disturbed by unclean spirits, and they were all cured.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.


Responsorial Psalm.     Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24                      (The Lord’s Goodness)

This is a psalm of thanksgiving to God for His goodness, which endures forever. Especially during this Easter Season, the church gives thanks to God for humanity’s salvation earned by Jesus.


R. – Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His love is everlasting.
Let the house of Israel say, “His mercy endures forever.” Let the house of Aaron
[ii] say, “His mercy endures forever.” Let those who fear the LORD say, “His mercy endures forever.”
R. – Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His love is everlasting.
I was hard pressed and was falling
[iii], but the LORD helped me [iv]. My strength and my courage is the LORD, and He has been my Savior. The joyful shout of victory in the tents of the just:
R. – Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His love is everlasting.
The Stone which the builders rejected has become the Cornerstone
[v]. By the LORD has this been done; it is wonderful in our eyes. This is the day the LORD has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it.
R. – Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His love is everlasting.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.         How to fear the Lord = Psalm 34 states, to fear the Lord – “keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit, depart from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it”.
Also:   – Discover Him, Learn about Him, Worship Him (devotion).   – Seek His will in all matters and act upon it (service).   – Be obedient to Him in both good and bad times.   – Love Him and give Him thanks.   – Reflect Jesus in our thoughts, words, and deeds.   – Do justly, love kindness, be merciful, humble yourself, and walk humbly with your God.   – Tell others about Him.   – Hate evil.   The “fear of the Lord” is one of the seven gifts from the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 11:2) but we must open up this gift (i.e. this ability) and use it as shown in all the above ways.


Reading 2     Revelation 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19                    (The First and the Last)   

Today’s Reading – John, the beloved disciple of Jesus, is writing from the island of Patmos where he is in exile having been banished for his belief in Jesus (That is, as a result of anti-Christian persecution under the Roman emperor Domitia). He is writing to fellow Christians who are also suffering for their faith. His correspondence seeks to give comfort to his audience. John entrusts his present fears and future hopes to God and invites his readers to do likewise. The basic message of this book is: Have faith that evil will not triumph over goodness. By standing with Jesus, Christians are assured of victory over all adversaries – even death.


I, John, your brother, who share with you the distress, the Kingdom, and the endurance we have in Jesus, found myself on the island called Patmos because I proclaimed God’s word and gave testimony to Jesus. I was caught up in spirit on the Lord’s day and heard behind me a voice as loud as a trumpet, which said, “Write on a scroll what you see.” Then I turned to see whose voice it was that spoke to me, and when I turned, I saw seven gold lampstands [vi] and in the midst of the lampstands one like a Son of Man, wearing an ankle-length robe, with a gold sash around His chest [vii].

When I caught sight of Him, I fell down at His feet as though dead. He touched me with His right hand [viii] and said, “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last, the One who lives. Once I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever [ix]. I hold the keys to death and the netherworld [x] . Write down, therefore, what you have seen, and what is happening, and what will happen afterwards.”


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.          
He Touched Me.
Shackled by a heavy burden; ‘Neath a load of guilt and shame; Then the hand of Jesus touched me;
And now I am no longer the same.
He touched me, Oh He touched me; And Oh the joy that floods my soul; Something happened and now I know; He touched me and made me whole.
Since I met this blessed Savior; Since He cleansed and made me whole; I will never cease to praise Him:
I’ll shout it while eternity rolls.
He touched me, Oh He touched me; And Oh the joy that floods my soul; Something happened and now I know; He touched me and made me whole.
Something happened and now I know; He touched me and made me whole.
He made me whole; He made me whole. (William J. Gaither)


Gospel     John 20:19-31                               (Living Faith)

Today’s Reading – This Gospel, especially the first part of it, is often called “John’s Pentecost” because in it, Jesus imparts His Holy Spirit to those present in the Upper Room (“He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit”). Jesus, after His resurrection, comes to a group of fear-filled, guilt-ridden and depressed disciples. He stands in their midst and offers them four gifts: peace, joy, the Holy Spirit and the power to forgive sins. By sharing with the disciples His wounds (“He showed them His hands and side”), Jesus is showing them that it is really Him and not some ghost. Also, He is teaching them that there is no Easter glory without Good Friday pain. Jesus is saying to us: the Christian community is built when the participants learn to share their wounds through faith and fellowship.

The apostle Thomas is featured in this passage; his journey from doubt to faith is offered as an encouragement to all who, at various moments of their lives, struggle with the challenge of believing in Jesus and living accordingly.


On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst [xi] and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, so I send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” [xii]
Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in His hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”

Now a week later His disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see My hands, and bring your hand and put it into My side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” [xiii] Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen Me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in His Name.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.

Catechism 514 – Many things about Jesus of interest to human curiosity do not figure (appear) in the Gospels. Almost nothing is said about His hidden life at Nazareth, and even a great part of His public life is not recounted. What is written in the Gospels was set down there “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His Name.”



[i] Reading 1 Footnote:
“Solomon’s portico” = This was located outside of the temple, open to all, Jews and Gentiles. Had it been within the temple, the priests would have interrupted them, and tried to silence them.
[ii] Responsorial Psalm Footnotes:
“House of Aron” = This represents the Jewish priests. The House of Aaron is the Biblical name of the family of Israelite priests ordained by God to serve Him at the Tabernacle in the wilderness and, later, at the temple in Jerusalem. Aronites were a family within the tribe of Levi – both Moses and his brother Aron were of the Tribe of Levi.
[iii] “I was hard pressed and falling” = My sin had strongly pushed me.
[iv] “But the Lord helped me” = By God’s grace I was prevented from yielding to the force of temptation.
[v] “The Stone which the builders rejected has become the Cornerstone” = “Stone” and “Cornerstone” are figures of Christ, in whom this prediction was fulfilled, when Christ established His Church. Jesus as the Cornerstone = Whenever builders construct a stone building, they discard some stones because they do not fit. The Scribes and Pharisees did not believe that Jesus “fit” their idea of a leader and “discarded” Him. But, God had restored (resurrected) Him to “usefulness” and gave Him the position of prominence in God’s work. The cornerstone of a large building is the largest and/or most important stone in the foundation. All the other foundation stones are laid and aligned in reference to this key stone. God made His Son Jesus the cornerstone for of all humanity’s “alignment” into righteousness.
[vi] Reading 2 Footnotes:
“seven gold lampstands” = This is a reference not just to seven churches, but also to all Christian churches, seven being the number that symbolizes perfection or totality.
[vii] “in the midst of the lampstands was one like a Son of Man” = This “Son of Man” was Jesus Christ in the midst of His Church to enlighten it, to defend and sanctify it, and made it the true model for pastors, who should reside in the midst of their flock. Jesus, the “Son of Man”, is in their midst. Because of His presence, there is “nothing to fear.”
[viii] “He touched me with His right hand” = Biblically, the right hand signifies strength, perhaps because most people are right-handed and that is the hand that normally has their greatest strength. And also, the “right hand” refers to the “sword hand”, so there is nothing to fear.
[ix] “Once I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever” = This contrast between the past and the present, between death and life forever, due to the resurrection, constitutes the core of the Christian creed.
[x] “I hold the keys to death and the netherworld” = The keys are a symbol of authority. Because of His resurrection, Jesus “holds the keys over death”.
[xi] Gospel Footnotes:
“Jesus came and stood in their midst” = The same power which could bring Christ’s whole body, entire in all its dimensions, from the Virgins’ closed womb at His birth, through His burial Tomb, and through the Upper Room’s locked doors, can, without the least question, make the same body really present in the Eucharist; though, all these actions be above our comprehension.
[xii] “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” = This is the origin of the Sacrament of Penance, it is equally true that the Church’s power over sin is also exercised to an extent in the Sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist, and Anointing if the Sick.
[xiii] “Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” = Prior to this, the Apostles only addressed Jesus as “Teacher” or “Rabbi”.