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MEDITATIONS ON THE LECTIONARY...From the Rector

Alleluia!  The Lord is Risen!  The Lord is Risen indeed! Alleluia!

2 Easter

Meditations from the Rector.....

Our Gospel reading for the Sunday after Easter is always John’s story of the Apostle Thomas and two appearances of the Risen Lord. As the passage opens, it is the evening of Easter day, and the disciples are secretly gathered together behind locked doors. Because Jesus was convicted and executed on a charge of sedition, his followers had reason to think that they too might be accused.

As we heard on Easter Sunday, earlier that very day, Mary Magdalene had announced to the disciples the remarkable news that “I have seen the Lord” [Jn 20:18]She also brought a message from Jesus for the disciples that he was “ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” [Jn 20:17]But none of the disciples had given credence to a bodily resurrection, and they did not believe Mary’s report.

No longer restricted by physical limitations, the Risen Lord suddenly appears within the locked room and greets the disciples saying, “Peace be with you”[v.19]. He then shows them the wounds on his hands and side.

When Jesus first appeared to Mary early that morning, he warned her not to cling to him because he had not yet ascended to the Father; but now he offers his Risen body as proof of his material reality. As Jesus repeats the Shalom, the disciples rejoice as they recognize Jesus and experience for themselves the truth of Mary’s testimony.

However, the familiar words of peace are much more than a customary greeting. Accompanied by the physical marks of the crucifixion, they provide assurance to the bewildered disciples and are a means of their transformation. Jesus is no ghost and they now believe what Mary Magdalene had told them before. The Lord is risen!

This revelation is now followed by a commission“As the Father has sent me, so I send you”[v. 21].This is the heart of John’s Gospel. Just as the Son has revealed the Father, now the disciples are to reveal the Son to the world. But the disciples cannot accomplish this on their own. Thus, just as God once breathed life into Adam [Gen 2:7], Christ now gives them the power they will need as he breathes on them and says: “Receive the Holy Spirit”[v.22]. Just as Adam represented new life, the disciples signify a new community that will testify to the gift of eternal life in Jesus Christ[cf Jn 14:16-17; 16:7, 13]

For unexplained reasons, only Thomas had not been present at this occasion. When told of the Lord’s appearance, Thomas stated the need to see for himself the physical proof of Jesus’ wounds. When Jesus appeared among them for a second time a week later, he offered Thomas the “proof” he had demanded. Once again there was the initial greeting of “Peace”[v. 26]. Thomas, seeing for himself Jesus’ scars, then confessed: “My Lord and my God!”[v. 28] in a new level of recognition. This represents the culmination of John’s Christology, as Thomas speaks not only for himself, but for disciples of all ages. Ironically, it will be the testimony of Thomas in John’s Gospel that will bring future believers to faith.

Let us rejoice with the Psalmist for the Miracle of Easter“O LORD, you are my portion and my cup; ...my heart therefore is glad, and my spirit rejoices; my body also shall rest in hope.” [Ps 16.5a, 9]

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2 Easter

What are the implications and meanings for you in these passages?

1. As you read the first part of the Gospel passage [Jn 20:19-23], try to imagine what it must have been like as the disciples were gathered behind locked doors and Jesus suddenly appeared.

  • Why would Jesus come when Thomas was absent? Why not come when all are present?

  • How were the followers of Jesus transformed at this time?

    2. What is the commission that Jesus gives the disciples, and how were they empowered for this mission (vv.21-23)?

• How are we called to carry out this same mission today? 3. In verses 24-25, Thomas demands proof that Jesus has risen.

• What proof of the Resurrection do we continue to seek today?

4. As you read the account of the meeting between Thomas and Jesus (vv.26-29),

  • How would you characterize Thomas as well as Jesus’ response to him?

  • In what ways do you identify with Thomas?

  • What is the example that Thomas sets for us?

    5. When Jesus appears, he greets his disciples with the words “Peace be with you” [vv. 19, 21, 26].

  • What effect do these words have?

  • How would you describe this peace?

  • When have you experienced God’s peace in your own life?

    6. Earlier that morning, Mary Magdalene told the disciples that she had seen the Resurrected Lord and conveyed the message Jesus had charged her to deliver [Jn 20:18], yet they seemed not to believe her.

  • Why do the disciples not believe Mary Magdalene?

  • How are they different or the same from Thomas, who likewise fails to believe what his fellow

    disciples relate to him?

  • How are you different or the same as Thomas?

  • Why do you think Jesus came when Thomas was absent? Why not come when all are present?

    For the Biblical scholars, a more in-depth task:

    Why does John say that he “wrote” this Gospel? What is the purpose of this Gospel?

    How many times does Thomas appear in John’s Gospel? What do these incidents say about Thomas and his relationship to Jesus?

    Where does Thomas appear in the other, synoptic Gospels?
    Where does John’s Gospel formally end? What is considered to be the “Epilogue”? Who wrote “John’s” Gospel?

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If you get stuck, email me for further hints!

And remember,

"Prayer" can lead us to a place of redemption....redemption in the awareness of God's presence above us, alongside us, and in us.  For God is with us!