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Monday, April 24, 2017

A Homily – The Gospel of John 20:19-31 ©

The Gospel of the Day – 2017.04.23


The Gospel of John 20:19-31
Gospel Acclamation Jn 20:29
Second Reading 1 Peter 1:3-9 ©
Psalm 117(118):2-4,13-15,22-24 ©
First Reading Acts 2:42-47 ©


Faith is Trust, Not Belief

The early Christian communities flourished because they believed in one another, The trusted one another, the relied on one another. They held their possessions in common and the lived according to their beliefs. They shared their food, their clean water, their way of life.

Because of their example, their communities grew.

It was not their faith in the risen Christ that caused their communities to grow, it was their faith in each other, strengthened by the example that Jesus had set which allowed them to flourish, and endure persecution.

This is not to say that the good news of the resurrection was not a binding doctrine for the early church, it was. But hat bound them even more closely together was the living witness to that teaching which they shared with one another.

The witness that God, the creator of the universe, is kind, loving, and merciful.

Jesus taught this above all things, and for a few short years this was the principle teaching of the Church he founded. Jesus taught that God is a loving father, abba, and God approaches God’s children in the spirit of love, always, even when God is exercising judgment, and administering justice.

The Church, like God, has no enemies.

God does not dwell behind the wall of a city, a temple, a cathedral a basilica.

There are no gates barring access to God, there are no barriers, in the world or in the mind, or in the true dogma of the church..

God is in all places, at all times and in the hearts of all people.

God does not favor one child above another.

God is a bringing of life, not death. God loves peace, not war.

Remember, God is the parent of everyone, the creator of the universe, and everything in it.

The resurrection of Jesus (if you believe in it) is a gift of hope. It is a reason to trust in what had theretofore been unseen, and what has been promised to everyone.

Whether we believe in the resurrection or not, this does not matter, the resurrection is the destiny that God has set in place for every person, not one of God’s children will be left out.

What faith in the resurrection does: it makes it easier to live the good life. When your belief in God’s love for you is firm, it is much easier to pray for those who persecute you, to love your enemy, to lead a just life, of kindness and sharing and mercy.

What faith in the resurrection is not: it is not an article of belief that a Christian holds onto, granting them access to paradise.

Faith will not protect you from evil, either from within or from without.

Be mindful of what Saint Peter taught, Peter is mistaken.

Peter praises the faithful for their love and devotion to Jesus, for their belief in Jesus as the Christ, as an object of devotion, as an idea fixe. This makes transforms our image of Jesus into an idol; calling Christians to give their love and devotion to an image, instead of to the way of life that he taught.

Peter is mistaken.

Do not tell people to be happy in their suffering, because they are suffering for a great cause. Do not tell them this. If a person is suffering something which they must endure, because they have no choice, so be it. Boost them up, support them, give them hope, but do not speak to them about the honor and glory of their suffering, and do not promise rewards for their suffering in the next life, do not promise these things in the name of idols.

When Christian faith moves away from the living tradition, and ceases to be way of life, when it stops being about people, becoming a partisan thing, a thing of ideology, and doctrine, then the way is lost.

The Gospel for the second Sunday of Easter moves us for away from the ministry of Jesus and into the life of the early church, into the era of partisanship.

John’s Gospel was written roughly one hundred-twenty years after Jesus died. This reading contains some fascinating glimpses into the life of John’s community.

John says that on the night Jesus was crucified the apostles hid in the upper room for fear of the Jews, indicating the deep division that had already taken place between the nascent church and the Jewish people who founded it.

Jesus and the apostles were Jewish. Ninety years before John’s gospel was written, Saint Paul was active in his ministry to the gentiles, arguing with St. Peter about the notion that gentiles must first become observant Jews before they could join the church.

St. Paul won that argument. The church opened to the world, and ninety years later it would come to see the Jewish tradition and its people as anathema to itself.

There was great concern for the church and its authority in this time. The image and understanding of who Jesus is changes. Jesus is reimagined as a priest doing priestly things; commissioning the disciples, instantiating their office, and empowering the to pass judgement on people, to forgive or not forgive sins as the disciples saw fit.

This flies in the face of the historical Jesus, a man who was not a priest, but was a prophet.

Jesus forgave sins, and encourages the disciples to forgive sins, not because they had the special power to do so, but because God, the creator of the universe, forgives sins. When the prophet proclaims absolution, they are not exercising a special power, they are proclaiming the will of God, and announcing something that has already happened.

This reading encourages the people to respond to mystical deeds and magical happenings; ghostly apparitions and visions, as if the claim that these supernatural events took place lent some greater authority to their work.

Many are taken in by this sort of thing, it is an appeal to magical thinking, but those types of appeals are always fabrications and lies.

In the final passage the gospel writer puts forth the notion that the miracles were real, they were performed so that people would believe that Jesus is (in a special way) the son of God, and that through this belief they would come into the church named after him, and thus become candidates for eternal life.

The construction of this ideology is: come to the church where the Gospel is given, learn the name of Jesus Christ, believe that he is the Son of God, receive that belief as an object or an article of faith, present that belief at the gates of, and be rewarded with eternal life.

The scheme of this tradition, which will be familiar to most Christians, this scheme is Gnostic.

The church rejected Gnosticism and these themes in the same era that John’s Gospel was written.
We should to.

The meaning of faith is trust; trust in God.

The meaning of faith is not belief, belief in a proposition or an article of dogma.

Christian faith is not; believe in Christ so that you can be saved. It is; trust God, that you are saved already.


First Reading Acts 2:42-47 ©

The whole community remained faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers.

The many miracles and signs worked through the apostles made a deep impression on everyone.

The faithful all lived together and owned everything in common; they sold their goods and possessions and shared out the proceeds among themselves according to what each one needed.

They went as a body to the Temple every day but met in their houses for the breaking of bread; they shared their food gladly and generously; they praised God and were looked up to by everyone. Day by day the Lord added to their community those destined to be saved.


Psalm 117(118):2-4,13-15,22-24 ©

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.

Let the sons of Israel say:
  ‘His love has no end.’
Let the sons of Aaron say:
  ‘His love has no end.’
Let those who fear the Lord say:
  ‘His love has no end.’

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.

I was thrust down, thrust down and falling,
  but the Lord was my helper.
The Lord is my strength and my song;
  he was my saviour.
There are shouts of joy and victory
  in the tents of the just.

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.

The stone which the builders rejected
  has become the corner stone.
This is the work of the Lord,
  a marvel in our eyes.
This day was made by the Lord;
  we rejoice and are glad.

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.

Second Reading 1 Peter 1:3-9 ©

Blessed be God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy has given us a new birth as his sons, by raising Jesus Christ from the dead, so that we have a sure hope and the promise of an inheritance that can never be spoilt or soiled and never fade away, because it is being kept for you in the heavens. Through your faith, God’s power will guard you until the salvation which has been prepared is revealed at the end of time. This is a cause of great joy for you, even though you may for a short time have to bear being plagued by all sorts of trials; so that, when Jesus Christ is revealed, your faith will have been tested and proved like gold – only it is more precious than gold, which is corruptible even though it bears testing by fire – and then you will have praise and glory and honour. You did not see him, yet you love him; and still without seeing him, you are already filled with a joy so glorious that it cannot be described, because you believe; and you are sure of the end to which your faith looks forward, that is, the salvation of your souls.

Gospel Acclamation Jn 20:29

Alleluia, alleluia!
Jesus said: ‘You believe because you can see me.
Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.’
Alleluia!


The Gospel of John 20:19-31

In the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.

‘As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.’

After saying this he breathed on them and said:

‘Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.’

Thomas, called the Twin, who was one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. When the disciples said, ‘We have seen the Lord’, he answered, ‘Unless I see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe.’ Eight days later the disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. The doors were closed, but Jesus came in and stood among them. ‘Peace be with you’ he said. Then he spoke to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Doubt no longer but believe.’ Thomas replied, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him:

‘You believe because you can see me.

Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.’

There were many other signs that Jesus worked and the disciples saw, but they are not recorded in this book. These are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing this you may have life through his name.

(NJB)



2nd Sunday of Easter

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