Second Sunday of Easter

ReadingsActs 4: 32-35; Psalm 133; I John 1: 1-2:2; John 20: 19-31

I grew up in a family of seven, five children with my mother and father.  We always ate dinner together in our dining room, mother at the end nearest to the kitchen, and father at the opposite end.  After saying our family grace, we all were served the main dish by my father with the side dishes passed around.  The dessert was served after our plates were clean and carried into the kitchen, to later be washed and dried by hand. 

During the dinner conversation always flowed freely.  It was about school, about that night’s homework, about Phillies baseball, about our weekend chores.  We also talked about the news from the Philadelphia Bulletin that arrived about four each afternoon, and by dinner time had been read by all who could read, especially the sports section.  We gathered, we talked, we ate, we cleaned up, and then we were off to our evening activities.  No matter what our daily squabbles, our disagreements, our fights (the oldest three were boys), all were settled as we sat down at the dinner table to eat and converse.  We were reconciled as we engaged in eating and conversation. 

And when we had guests, members of our extended family and friends, we had leaves, additional sections of table that were inserted to expand the dining room table.  We had two leaves that could add four more places.  Our guests would join in the banter, in the conversation, and sometimes in doing the after-dinner chores.  We expanded the family table easily. 

As our Gospel according to St. John recounts, the disciples on Easter evening were all together except for Judas, the betrayer, and Thomas.  The doors were locked as they joined in their evening prayers, their evening meal, and conversation.  They were full of fear.  And then, Jesus joined them, despite the locked doors, Jesus the crucified and resurrected one.  He greeted them with “Peace be with You”.  They rejoiced.  “Peace be with you”, and then he said the unexpected to those fearful disciples, I send you out on mission, I send you out into the same environment that crucified me.  We don’t know what their immediate response was other than their reporting to the missing and skeptical Thomas that “We have seen the Lord”.  We know that they reached out to at least Thomas. 

Never-the-less, the absent one was with them at prayers and at table the following Sunday.  The text is clear – the doors were again shut, but they were not locked!  The table had been expanded by one.  Thomas was present.  Again, the crucified and resurrected Jesus “came and stood among them and said, Peace be with you”.  Welcomed, reconciled by Jesus, Thomas proclaimed, “My Lord and My God”.  With the reconciliation of the disciples and Jesus complete, St. John concluded the gospel. 

The fearful disciples became the bold apostles, the sent-out ones, that changed the world.  Disbursed as tradition tells us, they created tables of sharing conversation and of sharing Body and Blood, bread and wine.  Disbursed as tradition tells us, they created communities of expanded reconciliation, of expanded tables of forgiveness, of expanded tables of love.  Disbursed as tradition tells us, they threw doors open to welcome all, even to welcome us, even to us! 

We are invited to do the same in our own day.  We are invited to declare with our actions and with our words that we, too, have seen the thorn crowned, pierced risen Jesus among us this Easter season.  We are not to keep it quiet, to keep it to ourselves behind closed doors. 

We are to set new places and to expand our tables of Body and Blood, of bread and wine, of coffee and tea, of cookies and cake, of conversation and reconciliation. 

We have nothing to fear.  May we fling wide our doors.

We are reconciled to God.  May we be reconciled to each other.

The Peace of God is among us.  May we share that peace wherever our life’s journey takes us. 


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