SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER
“We Proclaim Joy!”
April 19, 2020
Acts 2: 22-28
1 Peter 1: 3-9
John 20: 19-31
Fr. Roberto Jorvina
Today is the second Sunday of Easter. It is the time when all times turn! It is the moment when uncertain, dark and unsure future is now transformed into a sure and bright tomorrow.
Imagine with me for a moment - the whole Roman empire (Pontius Pilate as Caesar’s representative), the greatest political force at that time. Together, the Jewish Sanhedrin, the chief priest, the Pharisees and scribes, the religious force in that area of the world corroborating to bring down a simple carpenter, rabbi from Nazareth. All the known world then saw His cruel, shameful, barbaric death. It was a torturous ritual that this man bore for many hours. There was the emotional pain of being deserted by His allies, His closest friends, denied by one and betrayed by another. There was the shame of being mocked, ridiculed, and humiliated. All of human sin, disorder, dysfunction, and infirmity were laid upon Him. He died. He was buried.
Yet, all of man’s power could not hold Jesus in the grave. The resurrection has taken place! Christ has won the victory for all of us
Today, two thousand years later, many forces still try to bring Jesus back to the grave – denying His resurrection. We always have taken for granted the Resurrection – thinking of it as a myth, a legend, or some good religious teaching that is not significant today. The world pandemic and crisis even tried to kill light. For centuries, man has faced many tribulations and trials. Kings, rulers, and kingdoms tried to kill the light, but could not.
For each of our lives, we all have been affected by these situations that surround us today. We have fear; we have become anxious; we have become uncertain and worried. In our country alone, we have over five thousand cases that are recorded. Two million people worldwide have been contaminated and hundred have passed away. And yet, today, the Church proclaims joy!
What a seemingly contrast! Why joy? In Peter’s writing in the epistle, in the darkness moment of Christianity, today, we are persecuted even after Jesus’ ascension. Peter said, “You greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.” In Jeremiah 31, hundreds of years before Christ came, he proclaimed in verse 11-12, “For the LORD has redeemed Israel from those too strong for them. They will come home and sing songs of joy on the heights of Jerusalem. They will be radiant because of the LORD’s good gifts— the abundant crops of grain, new wine, and olive oil, and the healthy flocks and herds. Their life will be like a watered garden, and all their sorrows will be gone.” We see here how abundance was birthed in the midst of sorrow.
Our gospel today brings us to a group of men, probably eleven in number. Two of them were in the burial site earlier, and yet, they were skeptical, doubtful and uncertain. All of these men now are quarantined in the Upper Room because of fear. What will there future bring? Where will they now go after they have left their trade or occupation they had? What will they do? The whole Jewish nation is against them. The whole Roman force is tracking them down. It is just a matter of time when they would get infected with this surge of political and religious attack against them. Now, their leader is dead (or at least they thought).
And so here in the Upper Room, they are gathered. Today, the joy that we proclaim today is found in four areas of this scene.
We can proclaim joy because one, Jesus is with us. In Verse 19, the doors were shut for fear of the Jews. The doors of their heart were already accustomed to the thinking that this will be their end. Jesus enters in and stands in their midst of their fear. What great hope and joy it brings. In our lives today, when things are so much heading in on all sides, when there is nothing to turn to, there is Jesus. Nothing could keep God from finding us in the state we are in. He will seek for His own. It is like the woman who lost her coin or the shepherd who sought for his lost sheep – doing everything to get what was lost.
We can proclaim joy because we have peace. In Verse 19b, His word to the disciples was, “Peace be with you!” This is more than just a nice greeting. This is more than words of comfort. Many times we take for granted the words of Scriptures without realizing that contained in those words are tremendous power, might and energy. The word “Peace” are words of empowerment, of living hope. In 1Peter 1:3, Peter says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ.”
The Resurrection is not just a fantasy, a myth or some fairy tale. It is living and real. Wherever we are, we can have the real joy that this peace can bring. It is a life filled with Light. Now, everything becomes clear to the disciples. The future becomes certain and sure. The Roman Empire now sees this small band of men and women, few and weak and powerless as they seem to be, as the transforming force of the world by the Light of life.
When we have Jesus and His peace, we can proclaim joy because we have the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our Helper, Comforter, and Paraclete. He is the One who stays besides us and will be with us forever. He is the ever living presence of God in our lives. He is the seal of God’s gift of life to us. His first agenda is reconciliation – reconciling the world to God. We are now forgiven! No sin will come between us and God. All of man’s sin was nailed on the Cross – the sin of many before and the sin of many after. The Spirit is now there as a guarantee, as a seal of the forgiveness that we have been given.
We can now make a difference. What more greater difference it is today when the whole world is gripped with fear and uncertainty. This is the time for Christians to shine forth, to rise and to make a difference, removing the obstacles and destroying the power of sin in human life. In the midst of what we are experiencing, staying at home, obeying government rules, we can show that the difference in our lives is the Resurrection power of Jesus Christ! This is the day why we are sent out by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Lastly, we have joy because our faith is activated. Not only do we have Christ in our lives, the joy of peace, and the Holy Spirit, but now, we have been activated by our faith. Thomas’ experience with the resurrected Lord gives to us a basic lesson of faith. Not to focus on the way Thomas doubted, but in the way Christ brings us understanding of the way in His kingdom
In John 20:31 New Living Translation (NLT), it says, “31 But these are written so that you may continue to believe[a] that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.”
Faith now becomes our empowerment to bring forth the things that are not into being and thus partake of the life Christ has given in His resurrection.
The Church will not be overwhelmed by this predicament that we are experiencing. We may be quarantined in our homes. We may be impatient and restless, but in the midst of all, we rise with Christ in the resurrection power of His life because joy is now proclaimed!