Collect for the Day: Almighty Father, who hast given thine only Son to die for our sins and to rise again for our justification: grant us so to put away the leaven of malice and wickedness that we may always serve thee in pureness of living and truth; through the merits of Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Reflection by Ven Tony Wilds:
Second Sunday of Easter: Thought for the day
Let’s remember that we no longer speak, as we used to do, of ‘Sundays after Easter’, but rather of ‘Sundays of Easter’ (this being the second). Is that important? Yes, because although the resurrection was a once-for-all event, we mark it with a celebratory season. We have three main seasons in the Church’s year: the celebration of the Lord’s nativity – 40 days from Christmas to Candlemas; the remembrance of the Lord’s temptations and suffering – 40 days from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday (excluding Sundays); and Eastertide – 50 days from the Lord’s resurrection to the gift of the Spirit at Pentecost. This last is the crowning glory of our faith, the confirmation of the hope in which we live, and the reason we never really live in isolation, because He is with us to the end of time. Truly, we are an Easter people: Alleluia is our song (as St Augustine said).
Today’s Gospel gives us a number of pointers to guide our reaction to the resurrection:
- The risen Lord appeared and said “Peace be with you”. The normal greeting in his day (and still today amongst Jews) was “shalom”. It has a much fuller meaning than ‘peace’ often does in English. It implies wellbeing, health, peace of mind, being at one with those around you – it is ‘the peace which passes understanding’
- The disciples rejoiced. In one sense his appearance didn’t improve their situation; indeed it pointed to problems ahead, and for most of the twelve would ultimately lead to martyrdom. But to have him with them meant that they could face whatever life would bring in the joy of knowing he was always at their side
- He bestowed on them the gift of the Holy Spirit: the gifts of the spirit are manifold, but we see from this encounter that discernment ranks highly (they would be able to discern which sins were genuinely repented of and could be forgiven). We do well to pray for that spiritual gift for ourselves and others.
- The quest for faith is not always easy, as Thomas found. St John (verse 30 onwards) tells his readers what is available to help people find faith: the record of Jesus, as set out in the Gospel and the encouragement and example of the Christian community. So we all have a part to play, so that others may come to believe, and that believing, they may have life in his name.