April 7, 2013 –– Second Sunday of Easter (Sunday of Divine Mercy)
Acts 5: 12-16; Ps 118: 2-4, 13-15, 22-24; Rev 1: 9-11a, 12-13, 17-19; Jn 20: 19-31
All of the readings for today involve the real presence of Jesus after His Resurrection. From Peter healing the sick through the intercession of Christ, to the story of poor Thomas, forever known as “Doubting Thomas,” Jesus is present throughout.
The first reading is from Acts rather than from the Old Testament, but the Old Testament connections are numerous. The second sentence in the reading announces, “They were all together in Solomon’s Portico.” Constructed at the time of Solomon on the east side of the Temple in Jerusalem, this porch or gate is referenced many times in scripture. In John 10 it is reported that Jesus was walking in this area. Now, just a few years later, as reported in Acts 5, Peter and the other Apostles gather here. It is a direct connection to Jesus. Scholars cannot agree if this is the original built by Solomon, or whether it was a rebuilt colonnade made to look like the original, but that fact is irrelevant. What is important is that we see Peter and the Apostles walking where Jesus walked.
John’s Gospel has always been considered unique when compared to the other three. It was most probably the last one written, and its scope and themes are completely different. In fact, the Gospel of John covers only the last three weeks or so of Jesus’ life, and more than 30 percent of the Book concentrates on the final 24 hours of Jesus’ life before the Crucifixion. That is also what makes the second reading from Revelations particularly of interest. John, the youngest of the Apostles, and the one who in many ways is the closest to Jesus (it is he whom Jesus charges to care for His mother), has a vision. John was on the Island of Patmos, part of a string of islands off the coast of what is now Turkey. The island was used by the Romans to house political prisoners in a remote place where they could not cause trouble. John was a prisoner.
As reported in the second reading, John had a vision. In it he saw seven golden lamp stands (almost entire books have been devoted to the significance of these lamp stands ranging from a Jewish Menorah to the seven Christian communities located near Patmos, seven “lights” to the world, if you will. John makes it clear that the middle lamp was the Lord Himself, and Jesus speaks to John, saying, “Write down, therefore, what you have seen, and what is happening, and what will happen afterwards.” In other words, John is told by Christ to write the Gospel we have, with emphasis on Jesus as God, as God crucified, and as God risen.
The real stewardship message, nonetheless, occurs in the Gospel reading from John. It is that infamous story of “Doubting Thomas,” how Thomas the Apostle insisted that he had to see Jesus face-to-face, and he had to personally see and feel his wounds before he would believe that the Lord was truly alive. Thomas He fell to his knees proclaiming, “My Lord and my God.” Jesus responds, “Blessed are those who have not seen, and have believed.”
Like us, we sometimes hold back and have doubts. But as Thomas proves, trust in God is the very essence of what it means to be a steward.