Sunday Sermon for April 7, 2024, the Second Sunday of Easter, Year B

Readings: Acts 4:32-35; 1 Jn 5:1-6; Jn 20:19-31

Today we celebrate the Octave Day of Easter, meaning the whole week between Easter Sunday and today is one celebration of the day of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.  When we consider the resurrection, we must be clear about what we are celebrating.  The glorified soul of Jesus re-entered His Body and His body now shares in that same glory.  This is not a resuscitation whereby Jesus merely came back to life, nor is it a matter that the “spirit” of Jesus, looking like a ghost, made an appearance to His Apostles.

In the second reading, St. John tells us Jesus came through water and blood, that is, in one Person He has two natures: a divine nature (water) which He has from all eternity, and a human nature (blood) which He received from His Mother on the day He was conceived in her immaculate and virginal womb.  St. John also speaks of those who believe Jesus is the Christ, that is, the One Who died for us so our sins could be forgiven, but also the One Who rose from the dead so we could share in the divine life now and also share in the glory of Heaven for eternity.

In the Gospel St. John testified that our Lord entered the room where His Apostles had locked themselves because of their fear.  Jesus did not come through the door, but simply entered the room, seemingly coming through the wall or just appearing in the midst of His Apostles.  St. John tells us Jesus showed the Apostles His hands and His side.  St. Luke adds that He told them that a spirit does not have flesh and bones, as they could see He has.  Then He asked them if they had anything to eat and ate with them, something a spirit would not be capable of doing.

Because St. Thomas was not present when our Lord appeared, he did not believe in the resurrection of our Lord even though the others had told him of our Lord’s appearance to them.  Jesus appeared again to His Apostles a week later and presented His hands and His side to Thomas for his inspection.  Not only did Thomas believe in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, but understanding that the death and resurrection of Jesus demonstrated Him to be the Christ, Thomas went further and professed his faith that Jesus is Lord and God.

St. John tells us in the second reading that everyone who believes Jesus is the Christ is begotten of God, that is, they are children of God.  He also tells us that being begotten of God means we conquer the world.  This is because while we still live in this world, we have become partakers of the divine nature and are, thereby, raised above the world.  This is why St. Paul tells us that are to focus on the things of Heaven. 

In order to have a share in the divine life that comes with our participation in the divine nature, we must be in the state of grace.  We notice that in the very context of our Lord’s appearance to His Apostles, He gives them the authority to forgive sin.  With our sins forgiven, we can truly live as children of God and victors over the world.  This is the love and mercy of God given to us through His Son.

Today, in a special way, Jesus has asked us to concentrate on His mercy.  So many people are afraid of confession, they are afraid of death, and they are afraid of judgment.  If we really break this down, it means we are afraid of God.  Jesus is God, and we see in the two appearances recounted for us in today’s Gospel reading that there is no need to be afraid.  Jesus loves us and wants to forgive our sins even more that we want our sins forgiven.

Notice that when Jesus appears, on both occasions, His first words are “Peace be with you.”  We notice also that He did not condemn His Apostles for their fear, for their lack of faith, or for their lack of understanding.  Instead, we see the mercy, the kindness, and the gentleness of Jesus in the way He deals with His Apostles.  This is the example our Lord gives for His priests who have the immense privilege of reconciling sinners to our Lord through the forgiveness of their sins. 

St. John tells us the faith of those who believe in Jesus is expressed in love, first and foremost for God.  Our Father loves us infinitely more than we love Him.  Jesus came to us because He loves us.  Do not fear; receive His mercy through the forgiveness of your sins, and be united with the One Who loves you!

Fr. Altier’s column appears regularly in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly published in St. Paul, Minn. For information about subscribing to The Wanderer, please visit