The Second Sunday of Easter 2017

April 23

Bulletin Cover for The Second Sunday of Easter 2017 Photo: Rusty Kern

Complete Bulletin: CLICK HERE

 

Dear Followers of the Risen Christ,

We all experience fear. Sometimes we even hide from our futures when we are afraid. This is the scene from today’s gospel, John 20:19-31. The disciples remain behind locked doors because they are afraid that they will be killed in the same manner as their friend Jesus. The doors are locked and so are their hearts. The panic-driven disciples are hiding from the truth of Jesus’ resurrection.

Jesus appears to the disciples when they need him the most, in the tightness of fear. His first words behind these locked doors are, “Peace be with you.” Peace is surefooted hope. Peace is offered and remains with them. Even for our lives today, peace is transformative of fear when we all see the face of Jesus.

Thomas was not in the circle of fear. The following week, Thomas is with them and the fear-stricken disciples were once again wringing their hands. Thomas approaches Jesus and touches Jesus’ wounds. Thomas lets go of his own fear and professes to his new family, “My Lord and my God.”

The Easter season gives us hope no matter our own fear. The Easter season shows us that to really believe in Jesus’ resurrection, we also must touch the wounded and redeemed Body of Christ. Where is the Body of Christ today? The Body of Christ is here in our world in those who suffer and those who are afraid. The Body of Christ is in Syria. They Body of Christ is in Chicago in urban violence. The Body of Christ sits at our kitchen tables in the fears and stories of our children. The Body of Christ is people today in need of love, tenderness and peace. We must be willing to reach out beyond our fear and experience the redeeming love and mercy of Jesus in our day.

Today is also known as “Divine Mercy” Sunday. The mercy that Jesus gave Thomas and the disciples happens in our lives as well. Jesus wants the best for us, especially in this Easter season. Today love is incarnate in fear, in doubt and in our worries about tomorrow.

Each year on the Saturday after Easter, The Congregation of Holy Cross ordains our men priests at the University of Notre Dame. This year, two men are now new priests. However, this gospel on Thomas appears every year on The Second Sunday of Easter. So, each new priest preaches on Thomas’ touching of the Body of Christ. This year is Fr. Bob’s 30th anniversary and my 34th anniversary in the priesthood. Let’s pray for all who face doubt and like the disciples, hope that Jesus will reveal compassion and mercy to us all.

The disciples were lost in fear and then found themselves in Jesus’ mercy again. Their mission and purpose were restored with Thomas’ faith. So is ours.

Blessings in this Easter Season,

Fr. Ron

The Second Sunday of Easter 2017, Painting of Jesus and Thomas

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“My Lord and God” Jesus and Thomas, Painting by: Ronald Raab, CSC

I painted this image this morning with only a rag. This passage is one of my favorite gospels. I preached on this text at my First Mass, 34 years ago. I ache to probe the mystery of the wounded Christ. My entire priesthood has been exploring the wounded Body of Christ by listening to and being with people who long for God, those who survive on the margins of society. Tomorrow’s gospel remains our call to stretch out our hands to touch the redeemed suffering of the Body of Christ. Thomas’ proclamation opens my heart, “My Lord and my God”. Tomorrow, I will post the bulletin cover and my column. 

Gospel  JN 20:19-31

On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood in their midst
and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.”

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve,
was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”
But he said to them,
“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands
and put my finger into the nailmarks
and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Now a week later his disciples were again inside
and Thomas was with them.
Jesus came, although the doors were locked,
and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands,
and bring your hand and put it into my side,
and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”
Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

Now, Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples
that are not written in this book.
But these are written that you may come to believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that through this belief you may have life in his name.

Friday in the Octave of Easter 2017

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“Resurrection” Painting by: Ronald Raab, CSC 

Gospel JN 21:1-14

Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias.
He revealed himself in this way.
Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus,
Nathanael from Cana in Galilee,
Zebedee’s sons, and two others of his disciples.
Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.”
They said to him, “We also will come with you.”
So they went out and got into the boat,
but that night they caught nothing.
When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore;
but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?”
They answered him, “No.”
So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat
and you will find something.”
So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in
because of the number of fish.
So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.”
When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord,
he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad,
and jumped into the sea.
The other disciples came in the boat,
for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards,
dragging the net with the fish.
When they climbed out on shore,
they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread.
Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.”
So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore
full of one hundred fifty-three large fish.
Even though there were so many, the net was not torn.
Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.”
And none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?”
because they realized it was the Lord.
Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them,
and in like manner the fish.
This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples
after being raised from the dead.

 

Thursday in the Octave of Easter

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“From the Cross, new Life” Painting by: Ronald Raab, CSC

GospelLK 24:35-48

The disciples of Jesus recounted what had taken place along the way,
and how they had come to recognize him in the breaking of bread.

While they were still speaking about this,
he stood in their midst and said to them,
“Peace be with you.”
But they were startled and terrified
and thought that they were seeing a ghost.
Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled?
And why do questions arise in your hearts?
Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.
Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones
as you can see I have.”
And as he said this,
he showed them his hands and his feet.
While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed,
he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?”
They gave him a piece of baked fish;
he took it and ate it in front of them.

He said to them,
“These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you,
that everything written about me in the law of Moses
and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.”
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
And he said to them,
“Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer
and rise from the dead on the third day
and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins,
would be preached in his name
to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
You are witnesses of these things.”

Wednesday in the Octave of Easter

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“Their eyes were opened” Painting by: Ronald Raab, CSC

Gospel LK 24:13-35

That very day, the first day of the week,
two of Jesus’ disciples were going
to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus,
and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.
And it happened that while they were conversing and debating,
Jesus himself drew near and walked with them,
but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.
He asked them,
“What are you discussing as you walk along?”
They stopped, looking downcast.
One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply,
“Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem
who does not know of the things
that have taken place there in these days?”
And he replied to them, “What sort of things?”
They said to him,
“The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene,
who was a prophet mighty in deed and word
before God and all the people,
how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over
to a sentence of death and crucified him.
But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel;
and besides all this,
it is now the third day since this took place.
Some women from our group, however, have astounded us:
they were at the tomb early in the morning
and did not find his Body;
they came back and reported
that they had indeed seen a vision of angels
who announced that he was alive.
Then some of those with us went to the tomb
and found things just as the women had described,
but him they did not see.”
And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are!
How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!
Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things
and enter into his glory?”
Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets,
he interpreted to them what referred to him
in all the Scriptures.
As they approached the village to which they were going,
he gave the impression that he was going on farther.
But they urged him, “Stay with us,
for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.”
So he went in to stay with them.
And it happened that, while he was with them at table,
he took bread, said the blessing,
broke it, and gave it to them.
With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him,
but he vanished from their sight.
Then they said to each other,
“Were not our hearts burning within us
while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?”
So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem
where they found gathered together
the Eleven and those with them who were saying,
“The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!”
Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way
and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

Tuesday in the Octave of Easter

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“Whom are you looking for?” Painting by: Ronald Raab, CSC

Gospel JN 20:11-18

Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping.
And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb
and saw two angels in white sitting there,
one at the head and one at the feet
where the Body of Jesus had been.
And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”
She said to them, “They have taken my Lord,
and I don’t know where they laid him.”
When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there,
but did not know it was Jesus.
Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?
Whom are you looking for?”
She thought it was the gardener and said to him,
“Sir, if you carried him away,
tell me where you laid him,
and I will take him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary!”
She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,”
which means Teacher.
Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me,
for I have not yet ascended to the Father.
But go to my brothers and tell them,
‘I am going to my Father and your Father,
to my God and your God.'”
Mary went and announced to the disciples,
“I have seen the Lord,”
and then reported what he had told her.

Monday in the Octave of Easter 2017

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“And behold, Jesus…” Painting by: Ronald Raab, CSC

Gospel MT 28:8-15

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went away quickly from the tomb,
fearful yet overjoyed,
and ran to announce the news to his disciples.
And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them.
They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage.
Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid.
Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee,
and there they will see me.”

While they were going, some of the guard went into the city
and told the chief priests all that had happened.
The chief priests assembled with the elders and took counsel;
then they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers,
telling them, “You are to say,
‘His disciples came by night and stole him while we were asleep.’
And if this gets to the ears of the governor,
we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.”
The soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed.
And this story has circulated among the Jews to the present day.

Easter Sunday 2017

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“Easter Sunday” Painting By: Ronald Raab, CSC

Dear Believers in the Risen Christ,

On this glorious day of Resurrection, I wish all of you a heartfelt and loving Easter Day. This is the day that suffering and death give way to new life. Jesus Christ is Risen! Welcome to our parish community if you are here for the first time and thank you to those who are long time parishioners and friends.

Today’s gospel (John 20:1-9) helps us enter into the scene of Jesus’ Resurrection. Mary Magdalene, Peter and John find the tomb of Jesus empty. They had journeyed with their friend in his condemnation, his crucifixion and his death. They could not let go of the one they loved. Imagine then going to the tomb and not finding Jesus. They must have felt helpless and afraid.

Mary Magdalene was the first to proclaim the Resurrection. She was considered voiceless because she was a woman. She was considered a person without power or credibility because of her place in the community as a woman and a follower of Jesus. She testified to the empty tomb and people believed her! This is another miracle embedded in this sacred text of the gospel.

Jesus’ Resurrection means that a new imagination if possible Incredible things can happen even when we are discouraged or have lost our way. Something new is possible because we share in Jesus’ new life in our own baptism. Easter is a festival of Jesus’ new life but it is also a festival of our own share in it. We renew our baptismal promises so to proclaim to others that something new is possible. Love, hope, compassion and mercy are at the heart of our new life in Christ Jesus.

Easter is about a new imagination of our faith. If Christianity is to survive in our culture, then we are to re-image how we live. Christianity cannot be complacent or lethargic. Following Jesus is more than a strict adherence to rules or to be obsessed about the past. A new imagination means we are to rely on the Holy Spirit in the new issues of our lives. We are to take to heart the love of God and live in creative and beautiful ways.

I want to build our communities on such imagination. I see this when we step out of our comfort zones and serve people who most need the basics of life. I witness this when our poetry class offers new insights and healing about the past, about the childhoods of the poets. I see this new life in our art class when color, shape, shading, nuance and composition shows us a new facet about our skills and opens us up to potential. Our friends who are receiving the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and Eucharist in this Easter season give us all hope for our future.

How can you participate in the new imagination of Jesus’ Resurrection? What do you have to lose?

Easter peace and blessings,

Fr. Ron

On the Margins: John 20:1-9

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On the Margins from Mater Dei Radio, Portland, OR

Easter Sunday: John 20:1-9

We are connected to Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection through our baptism. New life is possible. We can re-imagine our lives in Jesus’ love for us. We can be changed, healed and forgiven because we are loved by God. Mary Magdalene shows us that a powerless woman can become the messenger for God’s love and hope.