SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER, YEAR B (DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY)
1 Jn 5:1-6
By Fr. Euly Belizar
In 1999 someone gave me a birthday gift I hardly recognized then—a cellphone. I was teaching at St. John the Evangelist School of Theology, a major seminary. It did wonders to my efforts at communicating with family, relatives and friends. Very positive consequences. Now virtually everyone over age ten in the Philippines has a cellphone. It does more wonders at communication and self-entertainment. But there are also negative consequences: ironically more isolation, addiction to gadgetry, less interest in book reading among the young, to name a few. And have you noticed at family gatherings? The cellphone, a high tech help at communication, is often its major hindrance. Sad but true.
When Jesus won over Satan, sin and death there have also been consequences but never anything negative. The first reading mentions three.
One is unity among Jesus’ followers resulting in the absence of needy members (“The whole community of believers were of one heart and one mind…they shared all things in common” Acts 4:32). A worthy goal especially in the Philippines.
Second, spiritual signs such as miracles indicating Jesus is alive and continues his work in his disciples (“With great power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection”, Acts 4:33). Miracles need not be sensational. Overcoming sinful habits is one.
Three, social equality. We hear of followers of Jesus selling their properties and entrusting the proceeds to the apostles who “distributed…according to each one’s need” (Acts 4:35). Isn’t it a wonder that we Christians often think social equality an ideology? It is not. It is rather a fruit and a challenge of the resurrection.
The second reading cites two consequences of the resurrection.
One, the love of the Father made concrete in Christians’ being more able to love “all those born of him” (1 Jn 5:1).
Two, faith that overcomes the pressures of the world (1 Jn 5:5). Those of us who inadvertently make enemies from even our faith family or are under heavy stress from work or relationships need to meditate on what they are missing from Jesus’ rising from the dead.
For its part, the Gospel tells us the more personal consequences.
The first is “peace”. The three greetings of peace from the Risen Lord point to the number or perfection, of God’s action in him. it also says a lot about Jesus wanting to share that peace to us. But do we actually open our hearts to that peace?
The second is the handing over of the power to forgive sins “Whose sins you shall forgive shall be forgiven, whose sins you shall not forgive shall not be forgiven”, Jn 20;23. Take note that it is to the apostles, to whom bishops are successors, that this is handed over. Catholics see here the origins of the Sacrament of Penance. Isn’t it beautiful that the Risen Jesus still brings us God’s forgiveness through the priest? When do we allow ourselves to experience it?
Three, the gift of true faith. To see is not to believe, Jesus tells us that much through Thomas. In fact, the Risen Jesus, with his eyes on you and me declares that “blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe” (Jn 20:29). Do we appreciate the opportunity to be blessed we are given?
Our mission, Jesus himself and his Church remind us, is to give witness to him who rose from the dead. We often ask how. I have a suggestion: The consequences of Jesus’ resurrection are a good place to start.