Reflections on the Readings for Sunday 15 April 2012
Acts 4:32-35; Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24; 1 John 5:1-6; John 20:19-31
What does it look like to follow the risen Christ today? How does the story of the resurrection – the stone that the builders rejected becoming the cornerstone – play out in our own lives? The concept of ‘believing’ is central to John’s writings, both the Gospel and his Letters. Putting our faith in Jesus Christ isn’t a matter of believing some things about Jesus, it is committing ourselves to a journey of love in which we participate in the divine life.
When the risen Christ appeared to the disciples, he bestowed upon them peace, a mission, and the Holy Spirit. Three times in the Gospel reading Jesus says: “Peace be with you.” When we fully live the life into which we are invited, we will not be restlessly seeking, nor timid and afraid, nor angrily working for truth. Grounded and empowered by the love of God, we will know the peace that passes understanding even in times of trial and sadness.
Our mission is to go into the world as Jesus did, sent by his Father’s love to bring salvation. The Early Church didn’t spiritualise or sentimentalise this – for them love meant providing for those in need in very real ways. While the apostles were testifying to the resurrection, the community of believers was showing its power at work in everyday life as those with wealth sold what they had to provide for those in need. This was no love in words only, or being generous with what they had over. The better-off were willing to sacrifice their standard of living so that others in the community would not be without. So, whether one listened to the preaching of the Church or simply observed its actions, the grace and power of Easter was evident. Even those who had never seen Jesus could experience the reality of his love. The truth of Easter, that the rejected stone becomes the cornerstone, keeps working itself out. It is true of Jesus, but it is also true of the life of the Church. It is precisely the poor and the marginalised in their midst that provides the opportunity for the Easter faith to be actualised.
Living this way isn’t about trying hard to become holy. It is about living out of the life that is within us because of Easter. In his letters, John likes to talk in circles: Those who love God obey God’s command. And what is God’s command? Love. The life of the community of Christ-followers is about love from start to finish. When we put our faith in Jesus, we are born of God. Perhaps we can say that God is born in us. The Holy Spirit within reassures us that we are deeply loved, and reaches out through us to love others.