Our readings for this Sunday, the Second Sunday of Easter, the Resurrection of the Lord, also known as Divine Mercy Sunday and, colloquially, as Rebound Sunday, are here. (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/042422.cfm).
These are the poems, my notes, and interpretations of Fr Dennis’ homilies from two different Cycle C years. Since the readings are the same each year, we’ll enjoy a feast of the poems, some notes, and a reflection or two of my own. The Easters we are visiting are:
- 5PM Mass on April 28, 2019 Cycle C
- Noon Mass on April 3, 2016 Cycle C
The poems Fr Dennis references are:
- How to Soothe by Laura Grace Weldon, April 28, 2019 Cycle C
- One of Us by Wendell Berry, April 3, 2016 Cycle C One of Us
In 2019, we reflected on —
- All the Eastertide (post-Easter Sunday) gospels are Jesus’ post-resurrection experiences.
- The first reading, always from Acts during Eastertide through Pentecost Sunday, presents the Holy Spirit’s gifts of preaching and healing. Note that people were healed by folks placing themselves or the ones they loved where Peter’s shadow might pass over them!
- (rl reconstruction from a shoddy note-taking moment) The ancient Greek word for being healed from spirits and physical ailments, ἐθεραπεύοντο, we recognize now as the root for our word, “therapy.” In ancient times, it came to mean healing, cure, and treatment, but also originated from a second meaning of serving, to wait upon someone. How often in my life has someone’s patient waiting been a healing for me? How often is our physical, emotional, and spiritual healing a matter of engaged waiting?
- In the gospel, Jesus offers “Peace” and reassurance (“Don’t be afraid”) to his friends.
- RL notes that Tom Florek, SJ commented that the ancient greeting of Shalom! (Peace!) was also often accompanied with arms up and bent, hands open, and palms directed outward. This would mean the loose sleeves of ancient times would drop down toward the elbows, and for the resurrected Christ — his wounds, in what we now call the wrists, would be showing as he reassured his friends.
- In Laura Grace Weldon’s poem, How to Soothe, she captures this form of healing from the gospel, her father carrying frustrated babies and “walking inside to out” in the Spirit with soothing words of love and hope.
In 2016, we reflected on —
- Only the Gospel of John has anyone at the cross, the Marys and the Beloved Disciple; the other gospels make it clear everyone ran and, at best, gathered at a distance in or around the crowd.
- Jesus hardly ever says “Peace be with you” before the Resurrection, but it is a standard part of his greeting after the fact. It is a simple way of modeling that taking it easy and forgiveness are the Christian standards of the Resurrection.
- It bears considering — what did we think he would do? Because
- there are no teachings in the Christian scriptures about the “death experience” from the consummate teacher
- no miracles (that we know of, beyond a big catch of fish)
- no manifestation or appearance to Pilate or the Pharisees, i.e., Jesus doesn’t appear, say “Peace,” and eat with them.
- What does Jesus eating all these meals signify? Why did he do it?
- Perhaps in part to prove he’s not a ghost
- Perhaps, as discussed above, he wanted to be with his friends.
- One of Us by Wendell Berry captures this sense of remembering Jesus as one of us at table — not as a miracle worker, not as a teacher … but just one of us, the ultimate act of mercy and forgiveness.
- rl notes that we often read this later passage including Thomas in isolation from John 11:16, in which he is the only apostle to exhort that they all proceed with Jesus to Jerusalem, even to the death. In isolation, the John 20:24 passage easily creates “Doubting Thomas.” When I read the two together, I find “Wounded Thomas” more apt, the invisible wounds when we are so certain in our faith but the lived outcome does not match our imagined one. No warrior-prophet-priest-king fulfilling scripture for these Jewish believers. Instead, they witnessed a donkey-riding child welcomer, subjected to the lynching of his day, failed by systems, the mob, and followers alike. He didn’t even defend himself. Prophesy fulfilled?!? I found I am more inclined to think of Thomas now as a believer who doesn’t want to suffer such anguish again until he can put Jesus to the test … as if Jesus hadn’t been already!!
Fr Eric Sundrup, SJ also had thoughts on Thomas as modeling faith as a verb rather than a static noun experience. Let our faith be alive. And in classic fashion, Fr Eric also offered a mnemonic to differentiate Divine Mercy Jesus (“Star Trek Jesus,” with the prism rays from his heart) from Sacred Heart of Jesus (“Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Jesus,” with his enthorned heart often with symbolic drops of blood). Funny, a bit quirky, but I never misnamed either icon image again!
This Sunday, April 24, will mark the 22nd anniversary of the Second Sunday of Easter celebrated as Divine Mercy Sunday. Pope Francis will celebrate the Mass in the Church of the Holy Spirit, across the street from the Society of Jesus HQ a.k.a. The Jesuit Curia (where Fr Tom McClain, SJ now serves), and 200 meters away from St Peter’s Square. The photo of the Jesuit Curia would have been taken from the main entrance of the Church of the Holy Spirit.
The Divine Mercy Chaplet has been available to us for almost a century. For our continent, you might visit the film JUST MERCY or the book of the same name by Bryan Stevenson, or Nobel Prize for Literature winner Toni Morrison’s A Mercy.
For our musing this week, I’ve once again turned to Jim Hasse, SJ, and his image of the Road to Emmaus, titled The Strangers We Meet. In this image, Jesus is depicted as Black in an African-American household, the roadwalkers look more Caucasian. It is in the vestibule of St Leo the Great in Cincinnati. It is also interesting to note that Hasse went with the scriptural interpretation that it was the married pair of disciples, Mary and Cleopas, whom Jesus met on the road! The website honors and names the 2004 models for this painting.
I mention this because when John Thorne, creator of the rotating Black Lives Memorial and UDJHS Theology Teacher, Pastor Associate Sacred Heart Church Detroit, and Director of the Detroit Catholic Pastoral Alliance, came to speak at our parish as part of the greater Martin Luther King observance, he mentioned that it’s the shared kitchen and meal that will mark healed racial relationships, the kitchen being the inner sanctum of Black homes. Understandably, in this country, the invitation into a Black person’s kitchen and home must be one of great trust.
In this light, Jim Hasse, SJ’s painting in this setting and the North American continent also struck me as a depiction of the mercy or compassion we hear about in The Prodigal Son and the other four instances in Christian scripture.