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2nd Sunday of Easter
2nd Sunday of Easter
Why Risen Jesus doesn't appear to the whole world?
The appearances of the risen Jesus are not the end of the story. That's why Jesus doesn't just appear to the whole world and continue doing so until everyone believes. The appearances of the risen Jesus do not always convince the disciples, he has to appear a number of times, and always at his appearances he does more. Today we hear Jesus saying to his disciples "peace be with you -Receive the Holy Spirit" at other times the Gospel tells us he explains things to them, opens their minds to understand the scriptures, these actions of Jesus prefigure the sending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. But this Spirit cannot be sent until Jesus has returned to the Father. It is the ascension, his return to the Father from whom he came, taking with him his glorified risen humanity which completes our redemption; and it is the sending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost after the ascension, which completes the birth of the Church. And it is in the Church, the body of Christ, that we recognise the Risen Lord and from which we receive, through the sacraments, the grace of salvation.
The appearances of the risen Jesus must be seen as a special time of grace, almost an act of supreme patience by Our Saviour. The human body, the human nature he joined to his divine nature is risen, it can no longer die, it is not bound by the need to sleep, to eat, to occupy a particular space or time, it is no longer of this finite creation, earth cannot hold it. For the risen humanity of Christ the world of time, decay, death and endings is itself ended. His humanity is a new creation. It is the Church, fully born with the sending of the Holy Spirit that becomes the body of Christ, where we who did not live during those special days immediately after the resurrection look to recognise Our Lord and Our God. Jesus points to this when he says Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe".
Church - the Body of Christ
The Church is the body of Christ above all through her proclamation of Scriptures, through her handing on of the traditions and by her exercise of the authority Christ gave to Peter and the apostles. These three things are clearly present in today's scriptures "There are many other signs that Jesus worked and the disciples saw, these are not recorded in this book" says St. John. On the one hand the written record, on the other the things the apostles saw Scripture and tradition. "As the Father Sent me so I am sending you - whose sins you forgive they are forgiven" The authority of Christ given to his disciples.
But we must not fail to recognise too that Christ's risen body is wounded. It was those wounds which helped Thomas to say my Lord and my God. Wounds are also borne by the Church, Christ's body. Some are like the wounds of Christ, the glorious consequence of the victory of the cross, but some are self inflicted, our failures, our sins; and some are inflicted by others through hatred or by the work of the devil. We must be realistic and honest. We must distinguish between those wounds the Church bears which are the glorious trophies of faithful obedience to God and those which we have caused it through our sinfulness. We must recognise that the Church is both the body of Christ and the community on earth of sinful disciples. In consequence though the call it issues with the voice of Christ to "follow me" may sometimes be compromised, though the marks left by the sins of its members will be shocking, though it will only be perfect at the end of time, none the less the Catholic Church is the body of Christ. Filled with the Holy Spirit, she proclaims the fullness of faith and truth, she dispenses the means of salvation. Risen in Christ from the dead she can never come to and end and at her heart is the mystery of the Cross, which is our redemption. It is to the Church that the risen Lord points. It is in the Church that the risen Lord is found.