A reading from the Acts of the Apostles
Saint Luke tells us, “The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own.” How could people be so generous? It may seem foolish to us. The answer lie in their powerful belief in the Resurrection: “With great power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and great favor was accorded them all.” The community had experienced something extraordinary. The man who was their beloved leader had been crucified, but they knew that he had conquered death. They also knew that they shared in that new life, a life in the Holy Spirit. Of course they would share what little they had with all in the community. None of that was really important. They had a new life, a life in the Spirit. They would never really die even though their bodies would die.
How would our lives be different if we really, deeply believed that we were living in the resurrected life of Jesus with his Spirit within us? Would we be as concerned so much with mere things, no matter how trendy or special or necessary they were portrayed?
“Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; his love is everlasting.” Everlasting means everlasting. There is not much else that lasts forever. Let’s go with the sure thing, God’s love!
A reading from the first letter of St. John
Saint John was a young man when Jesus died; John lived many years after. As he aged, persecution of Christians intensified. Here, he assures them that “for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.” Through faith they will overcome suffering and persecution. We are not persecuted for our faith, but we do suffer in many other ways during. It is our faith in Jesus that helps us face and overcome suffering. Our God suffered for us and suffers with us. Our faith in that God in the midst of our suffering and our willingness to help one another to overcome suffering is our way to become unstuck from suffering rather than being overwhelmed by it.
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John
(Chapter 20: 19-31)
We all know the old saying “Seeing is believing.” But is that true? Believing usually means taking the word of someone else for something we don’t see ourselves. The man we refer to as Doubting Thomas says, after seeing Jesus in the flesh, “My Lord and my God!” But Jesus says to him, “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” That is who we are 2,000 years later. We have not seen Jesus, but we believe in him. Jesus says we are blessed because we do not see but still believe. That is the seemingly crazy but truly beautiful thing about faith. It is a gift. We are not in charge. We cannot make a deal for faith. We can freely accept it and grow in it during our lifetimes in the midst of disappointments, tragedies, doubts, and suffering. And we are never alone. Jesus said to the disciples, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” That is the same Spirit of God that dwells in us and unites us in faith. Let us rejoice. The resurrection of Jesus means that we, too, will have eternal life.
Painting: The Incredulity of St. Thomas, Michelangelo Merisi (Caravaggio), circa 1601-1602, Sanssouci Picture Gallery, Potsdam.
Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved.
Bill Ayers was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. Bill was a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.