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Sunday, April 28, 2019

A Homily - The Second Sunday of Easter (Year C)

First Reading - Acts 5:12-16 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 117(118):2-4,22-27 ©
Second Reading – Apocalypse 1:9-13,17-19 ©
Gospel Acclamation – John 20:29
The Gospel According to John 20:19-31 ©


Never mind the miracles stories that are presented here; they are not to believed. God is not a player, an actor, God does not do tricks or violate the laws of nature.

The narrative presented in the book of act concerns partisanship.

The nation was lost because it fell apart from within. The leaders of Israel disregarded the lives of the common people, and so the people turned to someone new. They followed Jesus, and when he was put to death by the elite, the people gave even more support to his followers.

The movement spread beyond Jerusalem, it spread beyond Judea, it slipped the borders of Palestine.

The Jesus movement, the way, contributed to the final destruction of Israel, its temple, and to the diaspora that followed, which meant centuries, nearly two millennia of suffering for the Jewish people, all because they refused to hear the message of Jesus; to love one another as God has loved them.

Listen to the psalmist!

It is true that the God is kind, loving, and merciful.

It is true that God comes to us, God’s children in a loving way. God always comes with love, even when God is exercising judgment and administering justice.

Remember this,

God has no enemies.

God does not dwell behind the wall of a city.

There are no gates barring access to God.

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

God speaks to everyone from there.

God does not favor one child above another.

God is a bringing of life, not death.

God loves peace, not war.

Do not confuse a victory no matter how great, or small with God’s will.

Do not confuse your suffering or that of any other with God’s will, either.

God does not interfere with these things.

Be mindful of the supernatural when you encounter it in scripture. The meaning is always metaphorical, allegorical, it stands for something else.

Consider the nature of prophecy; in scripture the work of the prophecy is never to predict the future, it is always a commentary on current events, on justice and the nature of the good.

In the reading from the Apocalypse, Saint John of Patmos claims a certain authority, it belongs to him insofar as he speaks the truth, authority does not belong to his errors.

All the saints, including the apostles and the disciples of Jesus, including those who walked with him and were closest to him, all of the erred, there is no denying it, the frequently misunderstood his mission and his teaching. They continued to err long after he died.

The central error of this passage from the Apocalypse is this: John pretends to have been given a revelation of things to come, but the future not written, because God has made us, and the entire creation free.

We are independent beings.

The Gospel reading for today is from the Community of John, this is not the same John who was exiled to the Isles of Patmos and gave us the book of revelations.

The reading for today moves us for away from the ministry of Jesus and into the life of the early church.

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

John’s says that 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, St. 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.

Prior to Saint Paul the Church was Jewish.

St. Paul won that argument, and the church became opened to the world so much so that ninety years later the Church founded by Jesus, a Jew of Judea, would come to see the Jewish tradition and its people as anathema to itself.

There was great concern in the Church and its authority in the time John’s community was writing this gospel.

In John’s Gospel, Jesus is imagined as a priest doing priestly things; commissioning the disciples, instantiating their office, empowering them to hold court, hear grievances, pass judgement on people, to forgive or not forgive their sins as the disciples, and their heirs saw fit.

This flies in the face of the historical Jesus; a man of the people who was in no way a priest, though he was a rabbi, a healer and a prophet.

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

This reading encourages 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.

This is never the case.

As we have already stated, God does not do magic tricks. Many are taken in by this sort of thing, but such stories are always fabrications, if they are not in service to some metaphor, then they are 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 in it, believe that he is the Son of God, and be rewarded with eternal life.

The scheme of this ideology is Gnostic.

The church rejected it in this scheme in this same era.

We should to.

The meaning of faith is not belief, it is trust; we are not called to believe but to trust in God.

The meaning of faith is not belief, we are not called to believe 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, you are saved already.

This is the Word of God.

First Reading - Acts 5:12-16 ©

The Numbers of Men and Women Who Came to Believe in the Lord Increased Steadily

The faithful all used to meet by common consent in the Portico of Solomon. No one else ever dared to join them, but the people were loud in their praise and the numbers of men and women who came to believe in the Lord increased steadily. So many signs and wonders were worked among the people at the hands of the apostles that the sick were even taken out into the streets and laid on beds and sleeping-mats in the hope that at least the shadow of Peter might fall across some of them as he went past. People even came crowding in from the towns round about Jerusalem, bringing with them their sick and those tormented by unclean spirits, and all of them were cured.

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 117(118):2-4,22-27 ©

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

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.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

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.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

O Lord, grant us salvation;
  O Lord, grant success.
Blessed in the name of the Lord
  is he who comes.
We bless you from the house of the Lord;
  the Lord God is our light.

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Second Reading – Apocalypse 1:9-13,17-19 ©

I was Dead, and Now I am to Live for Ever and Ever

My name is John, and through our union in Jesus I am your brother and share your sufferings, your kingdom, and all you endure. I was on the island of Patmos for having preached God’s word and witnessed for Jesus; it was the Lord’s day and the Spirit possessed me, and I heard a voice behind me, shouting like a trumpet, ‘Write down all that you see in a book.’ I turned round to see who had spoken to me, and when I turned I saw seven golden lamp-stands and, surrounded by them, a figure like a Son of man, dressed in a long robe tied at the waist with a golden girdle.

When I saw him, I fell in a dead faint at his feet, but he touched me with his right hand and said, ‘Do not be afraid; it is I, the First and the Last; I am the Living One, I was dead and now I am to live for ever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and of the underworld. Now write down all that you see of present happenings and things that are still to come.’

Gospel Acclamation – John 20:29

Alleluia, alleluia!

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


The Gospel According to John 20:19-31 ©

Eight Days Later, Jesus Came Again and Stood Among Them

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.

The Second Sunday of Easter (Year C)

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