Reflections on the Readings
Second Sunday of Easter - April 27, 2014 - Year A
His Great Mercy
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 from the dead, and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. (1 Peter 1:3-4)
No body enjoys being around a grump. Any grump. Especially grumpy Christians. If faith in Jesus Christ as advertised by some of his people were taken at face value I'm afraid folks would not think much of Jesus. Pope Francis himself worries about "Christians whose lives seem like Lent without Easter."
But really. What's gained by appearing as if we're always returning from a funeral? The first Christians enjoyed each other's company and 'breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts.' Glad and generous hearts! How about that? They had the joy of the Spirit way down deep in their hearts. And it bubbled over in kinship and fellowship around the apostles' teaching, the breaking of bread, and the prayers.
Who knew that being a Christian and going to Church could be so much fun? Apparently a lot of people got caught up in these Christian's joy because the 'Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.' There's nothing more contagious than meeting folks who have the real stuff and show it and share it. You know how, right? Make a friend, be a friend, bring your friend to Christ! There was not a theology major in all the rank and file of those who claimed Jesus as Savior and Lord. Fisherman, tax collectors, women and men of high and low estate, all forgiven, loved, and filled with unspeakable joy! All because of His great mercy!
Advertise that! Say to someone that you were once lost in sin, but Jesus took you in, and then a little heaven filled your heart. Tell someone how you found mercy at the throne of Grace and that the Father above looked down in love and lifted you from the miry clay. Tell that. Shout it if you like. Say with a heart that means it, "It's all because of His great mercy!
And if that is not enough to set your heart on fire then stand by Thomas. That's right. Jump right into that scene of extraordinary power gazing right at Jesus regal in resurrection strength even though the mystery of the holes in his hands and feet and side remained. Thomas, overcome with joy exclaims, "My Lord, and My God!" Indeed!
Thomas' joy is our joy. As Peter reminds us today, "Although you have not seen him you love him; even though you do not see him now yet believe in him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy." And our joy in Christ is sustained by the assurance that the best is yet to be. The glass is not half empty, there's room for more. For by his great mercy we have a living hope! Our future is as bright as the brilliance that filled that first Easter tomb. That same light of Christ will lead us home and reveal to us our inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading!
I remember when my mother went home to be with the Lord. Lou Gehrig's disease ravished my mother's body but it never diminished her faith. Just before she passed I prayed asking the Lord to either heal her or take her home. A couple of days before she left us I had a dream. In my dream I saw my mother dressed in white ascending into the heavens. I drew near her in my dream and I remember almost not recognizing her, because she looked so new, imperishable and unfading! Sometime on Sunday morning, July 16, 1995, my mother left this world filled with the Easter promise that the dead in Christ shall rise first! And by His great mercy we shall be caught up with them to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Amen.
Dennis Hankins is a parishioner at Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral, of the Diocese of Knoxville, TN. Prior to uniting with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil 2006, Dennis served as a priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church. E-mail Dennis at: email@example.com or follow him on Twitter: @dshankins or visit him at: www.dennishankins.com