Second Sunday of Easter (A)
Eight days later, Jesus came
The Word This Week
Often people forget that Easter is not just a day, but a season - the longest in the Churchs year, in fact! We are given fifty glorious days of Spring and Summer to prolong our baptismal joy, fifty glorious days of basking in the light of the risen Saviour. It seems a shame that after the efforts we put into Lent we dont celebrate Eastertide with the same enthusiasm.
The readings of this Season have their origins in the instruction given to converts in the early Church: in Lent, the readings were the basis of catechesis on the forthcoming baptism; in Easter the readings are Mystagogy - a type of teaching where the newly baptised (neophytes) learn through taking part in the celebration of the sacraments and hearing the word. On the Sundays we hear who Jesus is, and on weekdays hear about Baptism and the Eucharist. This Mystagogy is not just to nourish the neophytes, but to help all of us deepen our life in the risen Lord Jesus.
This Sunday we are with the disciples in the Upper Room, where eight days after the Resurrection Jesus comes among them - as he comes among us.
Notes for Readers
The Book of the Acts of the Apostles is a simple history of what happened after the Resurrection - it is Volume Two of Saint Lukes Gospel. Its simplicity makes it fairly easy to read and understand. Why do we read it in Easter? Simply because it tells us what the Resurrection meant to the first disciples: it was the event that led them out through the known world, witnessing to it. This is the content of the Book: it is the story of testimony to the central event of the Death and Resurrection of the Lord.
Each short sentence in this reading is powerful - the example of that first community should challenge us in our parish communities. Proclaim clearly and with simplicity, pausing frequently between sentences and sub-clauses.
A question for the week after the Easter Vigil: What does my baptism actually mean? Saint Peter gives us an answer in this reading: it is a new birth, the promise of an inheritance. It is a gift of faith, which means that God will guard us - this makes us glad even though we have to endure hardship now.
This reading is in three sections: the first section is the first sentence (complicated in structure - break it up), which is a shout of praise for Gods gift of baptism in Jesus; the second section (up to ...praise and glory and honour) is about faith and what it can achieve; the final section, You did not see him... to the end, is a wonderful, forward-looking passage with these marvellous words: .. .you are already filled with a joy so glorious that it cannot be described. This is almost ecstatic poetry - it certainly expresses something beyond description. Enjoy this reading: it is complicated, but will amply repay a little work beforehand, working out pauses and proper emphases.