Second Sunday of Easter – 24 April 2022
Lectionary Readings: Acts 5:12-16; Ps. 118:2-4. 22-27; Rev. 1:9-13. 17-19; Jn. 20:19-31
Theme: The Mission of Reconciliation
We live in postcolonial times when mission is suspect and full of the baggage of colonialism because, unfortunately, mission got entangled with colonization which caused undue suffering. However, mission is inextricable in the life of the disciples of Jesus. Today’s gospel may not be a gospel text that is often related to mission like the “Great Commission” in Matthew 28:16-20. However, this may be an inspiration that contemporary missionary disciples of Jesus might need because our world is so much in need of reconciliation.
When Jesus appeared to his disciples, he showed them his hands and his side: the marks of the crucifixion were still in his body. The reality of what had happened was not denied, yet there was the sign of hope of the resurrection which vividly stated that life won in the end. Whenever we feel the overwhelming presence of death in the world, then, we can look forward to the hope of the resurrection.
After the disciples rejoiced at the sight of Jesus, there was no dialogue that ensued. Instead, Jesus wished them peace, sent them, breathed on them and gave them the Holy Spirit. Unlike in Matthew, there were no instructions because Jesus promised that, “the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.” [John 14:26] The standard of the disciples’ presence in the world is this, “as the Father has sent me, so I send you.” [John 20:21] Therefore, wherever we present ourselves as Christ’s followers, by God’s grace, may people see the face of God, the One who sent us.
Meier comments that John’s Gospel sums up the mission of the Church as the “forgiving and retaining of sins.” But this is not in the sense of the sacrament of reconciliation. He says further that, “By His death, the Lamb of God conquered sin – in principle.” [Meier, 397] If only in principle, this means that the actual manifestation of this cosmic reality must be seen, felt and heard in the world through the disciples of Jesus. The emphasis of forgiveness in this text is on the communitarian aspect, not between God and humanity because that has already happened in the sacrifice of Jesus. Forgiveness, I believe, in this sense, is for communal reconciliation, to bring about the unity that Christ desired for all. Definitely, verse 23 must not be interpreted as power over another but a choice, as if asking the question: “do you want the community to be made whole through reconciliation?” It reminded me of Deuteronomy 30:19b, “Choose life so that you and your descendants may live.” Choose forgiveness so that you may be reconciled.
Easter is a joyous occasion and, yes, we must celebrate. Yet, there is still much to do. There is still much to repent of and to reconcile. As Bat Kol alums, for instance, we are tasked to ensure that our preaching of the Gospel would not contain anti-Jewish sentiments. [We have one instance of this in this particular text, “for fear of the Jews.”
As we reflect on this gospel, we also send our prayers and presence into areas needing reconciliation. Perhaps, this is a mission that you would like to engage in with your community.
For Reflection and Discussion: In what ways can you live out the mission that is given to us by Jesus in this gospel text?
Bibliography: Meier, J., Midstream 35, no. 4 October 1996
This week’s Sunday Liturgy Commentary was prepared by
Sr. Petite Lao RNDM, Philippines/Canada, Bat Kol Alumna 2010, 2014, 2019