2nd Sunday of Easter
Deacon Tom Vert
Preached: April 19, 2020
“Hide and seek is easier than you think!”
I think all of us can remember being children and playing hide and seek either with our family or friends.
I remember playing in my neighbourhood with my brothers and sister and the local neighbourhood kids. We had rules that you had to stay within our one block and no backyards.
If you followed a fairly systematic plan (spoken like a future engineer), hide and seek was easier than you would think as you found all the key hiding spots.
I was thinking of today’s readings and hide and seek popped into my head.
We hear in today’s readings Christ saying to the disciples in the upper room “Peace be with you”.
And when I think of peace, I think many times for myself and maybe for you, it seems so elusive in this world of ours. How do we find peace with cell phones, 24-hour news, the internet, work lives that expect answers day and night, children to be raised, elderly parents to take care of, etc.
At times it seems so overwhelming and as hard to find as a small child hidden behind an evergreen bush.
We should clarify that when Christ says “peace be with you” it is not a frivolous greeting but a powerful statement that has been used in the Middle East by both Christians, Jewish followers and Arabs for thousands of years.
It means, “May God give you every good thing including prosperity, well-being, health, completeness and safety”.
The disciples would have remembered at that moment what Christ said to them at the last supper: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you…do not let your hearts be troubled, do not let them be afraid”
This promise of total peace is what Jesus told them and he tells us. It is not just a feeling of calmness, but instead a feeling of closeness and security. Psalm 131 tells us that we are like a baby sleeping in its mother’s arms, and I think that is a beautiful image of what peace truly is.
Christ tells them this just after the resurrection in order to convey the message that St. Paul has in the 2nd reading: a new birth, a living hope, an inheritance of salvation, the promise of eternal life. This gives us the ability to know that we have a place in heaven reserved for us, with Christ himself as the one who has prepared it.
I remember my own father telling me once close to the end of his life “I don’t know why people are afraid to die…what kind of faith do they really have?” It is a little tough, like my dad, but his point was that we hear every Easter how Christ destroyed death and opened the gates to heaven for us…we should be grateful and not afraid of how life will play out.
So intellectually, we may understand that we are supposed to have peace with this great promise, but how do we really attain peace in the here and now as the world speeds ahead?
I tried to reflect back on times in my own life when I truly felt peace:
- At the top of the Andes mountains with my two daughters looking across ice capped mountains
- When I would nap on the couch with one of the girls also sleeping on my chest
- At prayer in a quiet chapel at St. Augustine’s seminary
- On a walk in the Irish woods with my wife with only the birds to hear our footsteps
I thought about what is common in all these experiences that can help myself and all of us find peace more often and I came up with 4 things:
- Every time it was quiet without the distraction of noise
- Every time God’s presence was there, with him in prayer or with his creation, or with the people he has put into my life
- Each time I was fully present, I wasn’t thinking about past issues, my own weaknesses/faults or things that I had to resolve; and I wasn’t planning the future, but I was truly present in the place I was seeing, hearing, feeling each moment
- And finally, each time, I had an overwhelming feeling of gratitude. If I knew the words, I would have recited today’s psalm “thanks to the Lord, for he is good, and his love is everlasting”
We will have to suffer trials as St. Paul tells us and we are experiencing right now with the coronavirus, however, if we rest in God’s arms and give him our burdens and worries, the distance to peace is not that far.
So, this week, one piece of homework…pick one day where you can carve out 10 minutes.
Find a place that is quiet (could be inside or outside), say a prayer to God for Him to help you be fully present and block out all past thoughts or future worries. Feel God’s presence through nature (a flower or a tree), or with a family member holding you, and thank Him for all the times He is with you on your journey and you don’t even know.
Remember, “hide and seek” is easier than you think.
Second Sunday of Easter – Year C
Fr. Mark Gatto
Date Preached: April 28, 2019
Like Thomas, we come to Mass each week so that we can touch Jesus and believe. The first appearance of the Risen Lord Jesus, Thomas is not there with the others and so misses Jesus and does not believe. The following week, Thomas is there with the others and so he touches Jesus and he believes. He makes that great profession of faith, “My Lord and my God.”
We come to Mass each week so that we can touch Jesus and believe. But, our faith calls us to act.
When the Risen Lord Jesus appears to the Apostles, he says to them, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” We come to Mass to touch Jesus and have faith. But, then we are sent out by Jesus into the world.
What are we sent to do?
During Easter we listen to the Acts of the Apostles which tells of the experiences of the first believers after the death and resurrection of Jesus. Today, we heard that people were laying the sick in the street hoping that Peter’s shadow might fall on them. The Christian community, the early Church, was an instrument of healing. It made the mercy and healing of Jesus visible and concrete.
Jesus sends us out to be instruments of healing, instruments of peace, to bring God’s mercy into our world.
This past Easter Sunday morning, we saw a terrible act of terrorism in Sri Lanka. Several suicide bombings, some in Catholic Churches, killing hundreds and injuring more. The images remind us of the division, the hatred, the brokenness within the world.
Even within our families we find divisions, jealousies, even hatred. It is clear that our world, our communities, our families, are in need of healing, in need of peace, in need of mercy.
This Second Sunday of Easter is now known as Divine Mercy Sunday. It is a reminder of the Mercy of God. Reminder of our need for God’s mercy. Reminder of the power of forgiveness.
Forgiveness is essential, it is the power of God, forgiveness is necessary for there to be peace in our world, between religions, in the church, within families, in our own hearts.
Like Thomas, we come to this Mass each week to touch the Risen Lord Jesus and have our faith affirmed. Jesus then sends us out to be instruments of peace, instruments of healing, to bring God’s mercy into our world and into our families. Our world, our families, each of us, need healing, peace, mercy.
Each of us is called to be an instrument of peace, an instrument of God’s mercy. Even one act of forgiveness makes the world a better place. Have the courage to reject hatred, violence, division when our world offers you that path. Have the courage instead to embrace the mercy and forgiveness of God. Have the courage to be people and instruments of peace.