April 15, 2012
Second Sunday of Easter or Divine Mercy Sunday
1 John 5:1-6
What do we do for the poor and the vulnerable during difficult economic times? Some would suggest that the answer can be found in the First Reading. This particular passage of Scripture has been used as an example of the “perfect community” and one toward which we should aim. The reading is easily misunderstood. It does not advocate communism, socialism, and the welfare state. The key sentence is the first: “The community of believers was of one heart and mind…” This is the unity that changes everything and resolves the questions we might have about our relationship to those in need.
The Reading has always been difficult for me. Clearly, it does not describe what we see in either the Church or society today. I often wonder how the community of believers would look to those outside the Church if it did. We know what the early Church thought of as an ideal because we had read today’s first reading. None of us would deny that a sense of responsibility for one another and sharing would be part of the ideal Church life. The reading is an important one because it speaks of the belief the early Christians had in Jesus Christ and their awareness that their faith would form them into community. The faith they had in the Lord helped them to believe in one another.
As a youngster, I thought that had I lived at the historical time of Christ, I would believe with greater intensity and live with more holiness. Thomas is proof that this is not necessarily true. The blessing of Christianity is intensified in the Church which is a gathering of those who are blessed because they “have not seen but have believed.” They have seen without the physical reality getting in the way. They have seen with an intensity that physical vision does not permit.
Even as the Eucharistic community proclaims its faith in the Risen Christ, it acknowledges its need for reconciliation. Like the first Christians—we are not the community that we hope to be. At the Peace greeting, we acknowledge the desire to live “already” what we have not yet achieved. We promise to try again. In the divine mercy of Christ, we can be reconciled.
The measure of our Eucharistic achievement is neither in the firmness of our handclasp nor the pious folding of hands during the Mass. It is day-to-day living in a unity of heart and mind that moves us toward a community of believers.
Now—more than ever—we need the Eucharist. We need the Eucharist so that we can proclaim faith as fact rather than possibility. In the sure and certain hope of the resurrection we await the coming of the Holy Spirit in whom we will become one.
As we gather to pray that the Lord’s kingdom might come, we have the nagging realization that it will not arrive until our lives show our readiness to accept it in its fullness.