Lectionary Text for the Second Sunday of Easter:
“1 Praise the LORD!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty firmament!
2 Praise him for his mighty deeds;
praise him according to his surpassing greatness!
3 Praise him with trumpet sound;
praise him with lute and harp!
4 Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe!
5 Praise him with clanging cymbals;
praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
6 Let everything that breathes praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD!”
John 20:19-31: “When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then 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.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’ But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told 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 in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’ A week later his disciples were again in the house and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’ Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.”
Second Sunday of Easter Comment: The eight days from Easter Sunday to the first Sunday after Easter are called the Easter Octave (or eight days) by those who follow the Liturgical calendar. “The entire week from Pascha (Easter in the Eastern Orthodox Church) is considered to be one continuous day…For a whole week the faithful in the holy churches should continually be repeating psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, rejoicing and celebrating Christ…” (from wikepedia)
Psalm 150 certainly is fitting for this week. The word praise is mentioned 13 times. I am drawn to the last verse that sums up the entire song, “Let everything that breathes praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!” We are rarely conscious about the function of breathing. Our chests rise and fall, with little or no thought. Our brains will signal our lungs to inhale and exhale when oxygen levels are too low for bodily function. So we sigh! It takes air and breath to play wind instruments mentioned in the psalm and breath to sing and air to fuel our muscles to dance. It was the breath of life that God breathed into the lifeless body of Jesus. Perhaps during this Easter Octave it might not be such a bad idea to sit still for a few minutes and pay attention to our breathing. Maybe a praise may come forth acknowledging that life is and will always be more powerful that death. Then pray a prayer for those who have lung diseases that God will ease their struggle to breathe.
“In the Eastern Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox and certain Eastern Catholic churches, the first Sunday after Pascha (Easter) is known as Thomas Sunday, after the Gospel passage read that day (John 20:19-31), which recounts the story of Christ appearing to the Apostle Thomas in order to dispel his doubt about the Resurrection.” (from wikepedia)
I have heard more than one sermon where Thomas was seen a negative view because of his doubt. I prefer to look at Jesus’ response to Thomas’ doubt. Jesus appeared to him and as concrete as anyone could ask, allowed Thomas to touch Jesus, to examine him until Thomas believed. I like to think Jesus is determined to dispel our doubts. The Eastern Christians celebrate Thomas as the first to publicly proclaim Jesus as human and divine. Thomas after seeing and touching Jesus declared, “My Lord and my God.” So how does God appear to us today to dispel our doubts? First, Jesus kept his promise to give us the Holy Spirit. “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you…On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” John 14:18 and 20. God has a wonderful way of filling our hearts with a peace that passes all understanding, just when we need it most. Secondly, God sends others to us with the same Holy Spirit residing their hearts to speak the right word at the right time—or give a loving embrace at the right moment.
In the ‘afterglow’ of Resurrection Sunday, let us praise and give thanks from deeper depths within our souls to take us beyond the Easter Octave and on through eternity!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
©April 6, 2010
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