Second Sunday of Easter

Second Sunday of Easter

April 21, 2019

Yesterday at the 4:00 Mass we celebrated and gave special recognition to members of our community who deal daily with physical or cognitive disabilities.  The idea of honoring these fine men and women began over a half-century ago in our diocese with Fr. Tom Campion and the Apostolate to the Handicapped.  Today that same ministry is carried on under the name of the Apostolate for Persons with Disabilities.  I would not be a priest today had it not been for my involvement in that ministry decades ago when we would gather around the diocese at Masses and dinners much like this.

One of the regulars at those days was, and still is, a man by the name of Tommy Mauer.  While I first met Tommy as a young boy, it didn’t take long before he stood about 5-inches taller than me and about 100-pounds heavier.  To this day, every time I see Tommy he greets me with the same bear hug and a smile as wide as his face and the declaration, “I love you.”  There are times I am sure he is going to break my ribs, he squeezes so tight!  And just so you don’t think I got a big head over it all, Tommy greets everyone he knows (and some he doesn’t) with the same hug and declaration of love.

I was thinking of Tommy this weekend as I was reflecting on the gospel story of another Thomas.  If Tommy Mauer would have been the Thomas in the upper room, he would not have simply declared, “My Lord and my God,” he would have given a Jesus a hug that would have squeezed the Risen right out of the Christ and said, “I love you.”

The people of the early church gave witness to what they came to know and believe: Jesus has Risen!  For some, like Thomas, they responded with doubt; not doubt that ended the search for faith, but doubt that gave birth to the profound truth that Jesus was Lord and God!  Others, like John, wrote of wonderful visions recorded in what we know as the Book of Revelations, mystical imagery that gave people hope in the midst of persecutions.  The faith of others, like Peter, was manifest in signs and wonders.  If at least his shadow might fall on one or another of them…  For yet others, their response was simple quiet peace, with the breath of the Risen Christ upon them, they became the bearers of the Peace of Christ, voices of God’s Divine Mercy. 

But that was their response to the resurrection.  It was a testament of faith before their friends and their families and their enemies of their generation.  But what about us?  As we celebrate the resurrection in these fifty days, how will we respond to the Risen Christ among us?  What of our personal story will give witness to what we believe?  How will living out our faith make its mark on our generation?

Is there mystery of the presence of the Risen Christ yet for us to discover?  Will we search a little more, probe a little deeper, listen a little more closely, take advantage of the opportunities presented to us so that our faith in the Risen Christ will be stronger?

In a world that prides itself in the certitude of science, what mystical imagery does our faith have to offer?   In a world torn by war and broken by racism and divide by political ideologies, what mystical language of our faith can give hope to this broken, divided world? 

What wonders has Christ has given us to share?   What work will we do in his name?  Do we reflect the power of the Risen Christ in such a way that people want to walk in our shadow?  Who has been placed in our midst that needs to hear words of forgiveness, to know the Peace that Christ we have been given and called us to share?

The early church found a way to declare the Risen Christ to the world.  My friend Tommy proclaims the Risen Christ with a bear hug and the innocent proclamation of love.  What will we do so that the world will know that Jesus Christ has risen and lives among us?

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