Acts 5:12-16; Ps 118 Give thanks to the lord for he is good, his love endures forever; Rev 1:9-19; John 20:19-31
First a glance at the first reading; we encounter the early church set ablaze by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit; there is a boldness that captivates, that invigorates, that commands attention brings people to their knees.
The early atmosphere is described as a time of many signs and wonders at the hands of the apostles.
They were instruments of something greater than themselves and because they were opened to the presence of the power their lives transmitted it effortlessly.
There is a line that is captivating and true even today. "they carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots so that when Peter came by, at least his shadow might fall on one or another of them."
So that his shadow might fall on one or another.
Even today the shadow of Peter continues to bring forth such enthusiasm and hopefulness. Even today to be near Peter, his successor the Pope, brings people healing.
The church is today what it was then and Peter's shadow continues to fall upon one after another and beautiful things begin to happen and transformation occurs.
We direct our attention to the second reading, the book of revelation.
John speaks of his experience on Patmos, which was a penal colony of sorts. People were sent there who were considered threats to the establishment. John is in prison and yet he continues to speak and testify.
John invites us to be attentive to three things in the life of faith: distress, kingdom, endurance.
These are the three realities that accompany the believer as he journeys though life. It is not an easy road. It is rough and difficult: distress, kingdom, endurance.
Distress will find us where ever we are. The greek word for distress is pressure. We will encounter pressure to turn away from our faith, to back down, to let go of our conviction, to not live it fully.
Today at every turn we as followers of Christ encounter pressure to water down our faith, to water down the truth. Constantly the news media or hollywood, or talk shows mock us and ridicule us in attempt to apply pressure to get us to waver.
Distress and pressure is every where. We have a decision to make: we can let the pressure demoralize us or we can allow it to transform us like it does coal into a diamond that sparkles even brighter.
Not only is their distress but their is the kingdom. Think about that. or better et how often do we think about the kingdom, both the kingdom we are living and the kingdom we are building. The life of the king is in us. Christ is alive and we are alive in Christ.
The kingdom values and kingdom of grace and goodness has been poured into our hearts. Not only does it empower us it also reminds us the hope we have, a hope that does not disappoint.
Then John mentions endurance. Another fine word to describe the reality of the Christian. Endurance is the ability and more importantly the willingness to assert oneself and thus remain active in the face of adversity. Endurance does not cower but faces the storm. IT is less about ability and more about willfulness.
We often speak about cardio vascular training and strength conditioning for the long haul. Endurance in John's sense is a spiritual conditioning that allows us to keep moving forward.
Distress, kingdom, endurance are the hallmark of the Christian life.
Lastly we take a gander at the gospel. The thing I would like you to notice is what is missing in the story between the first encounter with the risen Lord and the second encounter with the risen Lord.
It reminds me of those pictures in the newspaper where you see what likes to identical pictures but you are asked to locate the differences.
I believe it is called spot the difference. Well look at the gospel and see if you cans pot the difference between the first encounter and the second encounter.
I'll give you hint: both times the doors are locked, both times JEsus comes in without assistance. The obvious difference is Thomas is present the second time, but the most notable difference is in the second encounter what is lacking is fear.
The first time the apostles were locked up out of fear of the Jews, but the second time there is no fear.
There is no fear where the peace of Christ reigns.
Think about that for a moment. The burden of fidelity is to bear the wounds of love. Jesus does this. And his peace empowers others because of it.
Spot the difference in your own life. Is there one?
As we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday we are invited to let the reality of Christ who is risen, who brings peace to become the bedrock of our lives, "Jesus , I trust in you" becomes the catch phrase for true spiritual conditioning. Each moment pressed upon the folds of our mind and the tension in our heart, JEsus I trust in you, drives away fear and reconnects us to the unwavering reality of His peace.