Bible Reflection (7 Apr 2024)

Bible Reflection (2nd Sunday of Easter Year B)

Acts 4:32-35
1 John 5:1-6
John 20:19-31

Is my life a testimony to the resurrected Jesus?

My brothers and sisters, we have entered the Easter season. We are Easter people. We are resurrection people. But, how real is the resurrection to me? Do I proclaim it? Do I live it? Do I even believe it? In the First Reading this week, we read this of the post-resurrection Christian community: “With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.” (verse 33) Inspired by the Lord’s giving of His own life, this was a generous community. It was a community who shared what they have: “no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common.” (verse 32) And this: “There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.” (verse 34-35) In honesty, most of us do not have generous hearts such as these. Our attachment to our wealth and possessions varies. Some of us would give away substantial sums to charity; others give some loose change from time to time; and others not at all. In truth, to most of us, our wealth and possessions are our security. But in truth also, most of us hold on to more than what we need to. Hence, what was it that made the early Christian community more generous than I? It is this: whereas I find security in my wealth and possessions; the early Christians found it in the resurrected Lord. Hence, this Easter, we ask ourselves: How real is the resurrected Jesus to me?

The crucified Jesus is a concrete sign of His love for us. The resurrected Jesus is a concrete sign of His sacrificial love triumphing over a cynical and loveless world. If we allow ourselves to be imbued with the spirit of the resurrected Jesus, we cannot help but love as He does. Indeed, when we truly love, then God’s way becomes a natural part of our life. In this way, obeying God’s Commandments comes naturally. Filled with the grace of God, it is no longer something we struggle to obey. On the other hand, if our faith is no more than habitual practices and ritualistic observations, then the resurrected Jesus is not in our consciousness. God’s love has not taken root in our hearts. His way is not part of our being. As such, observing God’s Commandments become a constant struggle, a struggle between our fallen nature and God’s way. As St John wrote in the Second Reading, “For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith.” (verse 3-4)

So, how do I make the resurrected Jesus real? How do I attain spiritual maturity? To achieve spiritual maturity like this, we need trials. In the case of Jesus, without the cross, there would be no resurrection. It was the same with the Apostles. On the night Jesus was arrested, it was not just Judas who betrayed Jesus. They all did. On that night, all of them abandoned Him (Mk 14:50). Later, many would repent and through their trials, grew in their faith. For example, Peter wept bitterly after he denied Jesus three times (Mt 26:69-75). In this week’s Gospel, we read of another betrayal – that of the unbelieving Thomas. We read how our resurrected Lord appearing before the Apostles. Thomas, who was not in the room on the first occasion, struggled to believe in the resurrected Jesus. He said, “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.” (verse 25) This was in spite of the testimonies of his fellow apostles: “We have seen the Lord.” (verse 25) Fortunately for Thomas, in spite of his lack of faith, he has a receptive and docile heart. Hence, when Jesus appeared to him later, Thomas exclaimed before Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” (verse 28)

God is always patient with us. Indeed, the Apostles each grew to have such strong faith that all except St John gave their lives for the faith. Perhaps reflecting on the faith and fate of his companions, in his old age, St John wrote in this week’s Second Reading, “This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood.” (verse 6) Indeed, it is upon the cross that we build our faith.

This Easter season, like the father of a possessed child, let us say to Jesus. “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mk 9:24) The truth is, many of the us, in spite of the Easter experience and testimonies of others, do not believe in and hence do not live the resurrection in our lives. To help us, Jesus bestowed the Holy Spirit upon us. In the Gospel, “he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.'” (verse 22) My friends, let us ask ourselves: Do I live the resurrection of Jesus in my life? In other words, am I joyful? Am I filled with hope? Am I receptive and docile to Jesus? Do I submit my will under His will? When He called me to serve, do I serve unreservingly, even when it is hard? Jesus is saying to me today, as He said to Thomas in the Gospel, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” (verse 29) Let us invite the Holy Spirit in. Let us knell before Jesus and exclaim as St Thomas did: “”My Lord and my God!” (verse 28) Let us proclaim and live the resurrection. Alleluia!