Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Second Sunday of EasterA - Divine Mercy

Sunday of the 2 EasterA

 

Readings: Acts 2:42-47; 1 Pet 1:3-9; Jn 20:19-31.

1/ Reading I: RSV Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And fear came upon every soul; and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

2/ Reading II: RSV 1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God's power are guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, 7 so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Without having seen him you love him; though you do not now see him you believe in him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy. 9 As the outcome of your faith you obtain the salvation of your souls.

3/ Gospel: RSV John 20:19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you." 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." 24 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe." 26 Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, "Peace be with you." 27 Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing." 28 Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" 29 Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe." 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.

I. THEME: The disciples have believed in the Resurrected Christ.

 

            If a human life is ended with death, people should spend their time for eating, drinking and making merry; but if people believe there is an eternal life after death, they must carefully think and do all they can to reach the eternal life. The simple reason for this effort is because the eternal life is perfect happiness and lasts forever.

            Last week we witnessed Jesus’ resurrection through the readings. Today readings show us different aspects of the faith in the resurrection. In the first reading, the Book of Acts shows us an ideal community in which the first Christians lived happily with each other; the reason for this lifestyle is their faith in the resurrection. The author wants to show us that this faith has power to transform individuals and the whole community to live according to an ideal goal, that is: to put everything in common and to live in perfect charity with each other. In the second reading, the author of the First Peter praised God who gave Christ, His Son, to people and died for them. By him, people are no longer died forever but have a hope to reach the eternal life. In order to attain the eternal life, their faith need to be purified by sufferings; after their faith is purified, they can reach the perfect result which is the salvation. In the gospel, Jesus appeared to St. Thomas and showed him all the marks on his body so he could believe; but he also gave him a stern remark, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

  

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: The ideal community

            The short and concise report of the Acts gives us an insight into the first Christian community and two basic principles to build up a community.

           

1.1/ To nourish spiritual need, the community did three things:

            (1) Listening often to Christ’s teaching through the apostles: The first community clearly understood Jesus’ teaching when the devil tempted him, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Mt. 4:4). The apostles not only remembered Jesus’ teaching but their faith is also confirmed by seeing the resurrected Christ. By listening and by practicing Jesus’ teaching help them to build up their life, and as a consequence, also to build up the community.

            (2) Participating diligently in the Breaking of Bread: The Acts was written early (ca. 50 A.D), so the first community practiced what Jesus taught in the Last Supper, “Do this in remembrance of me” only few years after Jesus’ resurrection. The Breaking of the Bread provides spiritual life for each individual, and as a result, also for the community. The words of God and the Breaking of the Bread are two main parts that constitute the structure of the Mass later.

            (3) Praying incessantly: Like Jesus, the first community must face dangers from all directions, such as: the Sanhedrin, the Roman emperors and even from inside members. They obeyed Christ by praying incessantly to avoid falling into temptations.

           

1.2/ To live charitably with each other, they also did three things:

            (1) Living in unity: The Breaking of the Bread is the cause of unity. Christ is the loaf of bread broken for many to eat. When Christians eat Jesus’ body and drink his blood, they become members of his body. To preserve his body whole, unity can’t be lacked. Unity is needed to keep the community from separation, both from inside and outside.

            (2) Putting everything in common: The Acts reported, “All who believed were together and had all things in common; and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need.” This is an ideal goal and also God’s will. He created everything for all people to use; He doesn’t want properties concentrated in few rich people while others are in need of them. The Christian communities are equipped to live according to this ideal goal. If the Christian communities can’t live according to this ideal, no other communities in this world can do it.

            (3) They have meals with simple and happy hearts: The Acts continued, “And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people.” It is difficult to determine the Breaking of the Bread and the fraternal meal are one or two separated events in the first community; but we know for sure that they have meal with simple and happy hearts.

2/ Reading II: “We have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”

           

2.1/ The eternal life is attained through Jesus Christ.

            (1) Christ gives us a hope for the eternal life: The author of the First Letter of Peter praised God as follows, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Before Christ’s coming, people have no hope for such a life; but God, out of His immense love for people, gave us His only son, Christ, to die for us and to suffer our punishments. By his death and resurrection, Christ brings back eternal life for human beings.

            (2) The qualities of Christ’s inheritance: The author described some important details about the eternal inheritance which is the eternal life:

            + Indestructible: What is material and belongs to this world shall be decayed and destroyed; what is immaterial and belongs to heaven shall be indestructible.

            + Undefiled: The human life on earth is affected by many viruses and sins; the human life in heaven is free of all viruses and sins; it is wholesome.

            + Unfading: What is composed by material shall be faded; what belongs to heaven shall be unfading and remaining forever.

            + It is given in the Last Day: People have this kind of life only after their death.

           

2.2/ The conditions to inherit Christ’s inheritance: The author listed the required condition to attain the eternal life which is to keep a firm faith in Christ. According to the gospel, people must believe in Christ; but their faith shall be tested by gaudy and ostentatious values of the world and the devil. When Christ comes in the second time, such purified faith shall become the praise and bring glory and honor for those who possess it. A difficulty for people is they must believe in and love Christ though they never see him; but according to the author, it is exactly because of this, people are deserved of their reward. The author expressed it as follows, “Without having seen him you love him; though you do not now see him you believe in him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy. As the outcome of your faith you obtain the salvation of your souls.”

3/ Gospel: Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!"

3.1/ Jesus appeared to his disciples the first time without Thomas.

            (1) Jesus’ peace: Fear and worry cause people to have no peace, as the Fourth Gospel described the apostles’ behavior in the day after Jesus’ death, “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews.” While they are in such fear, Jesus knew what they need the most, so he appears and stands among them and said, "Peace be with you." When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

            The apostles have peace because they saw the resurrected Christ. They thought they shall never see him again and were confounding by the events which had just happened; but now they are happy because they saw him in flesh and bones. Moreover, Christ has demonstrated to them that all what he spoke to them are true; all what he foretold about his Passion and Death were happened. Christ’s presence brought them the true peace because he guarantees them about God’s love and power which are expressed in him.

            (2) The “send out” command: When Christ chose the apostles; he wants them to continue his mission; so now he repeats again: “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

            Peace which the apostles have is not only because Christ’s presence but also the Holy Spirit’s presence and power when Christ breathes him into them. With the Holy Spirit’s presence and power, Christ sends them out to preach the Good News. Before this moment, fear and worry prevent them to live and to witness for Christ; but now, after are confirmed by Christ’s resurrection and the Holy Spirit’s power, the apostles open wide the door, enter into the world and are ready to witness for Christ. They strongly believe that if Christ conquered the most feared enemy which is the death, they have nothing to fear of.

3.2/ Jesus appeared to his disciples again including Thomas:

            (1) Thomas’ stubbornness: The author reported his attitude as follows, “Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe."”

            We should not be quickly to criticize Thomas because all other apostles were also hard to believe before they see Christ. However, “believing when seeing” is only the lowest in many ways that helps one to believe the truth.

            (2) Thomas’ reaction when he saw Jesus: To help Thomas to believe, Jesus appeared again as the evangelist reported, “Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing."”

            Thomas answered Christ, “My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe." Thomas’ answer isn’t purely his faith in Jesus’ resurrection; but also his proclamation “Christ is his Lord and God.” Believing by seeing is the lowest way which people can use to believe the truth; but Jesus wants to emphasize higher and better ways when he said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

            People can believe in God by seeing what He created and is controlling the universe, or through reading the Scripture, or by two reliable witnesses. We have millions of Christians who witnessed for Christ’s resurrection.

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                    

            - Faith in Christ’s resurrection has power to transform individuals and communities. In order to become an ideal community, all members must continually increase their faith.

            - Trials and sufferings can’t be lacked in purifying our faith; therefore, we should not be fearful when we confront them; but to use God’s wisdom and strength to overcome them.

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