Sunday, 27 April 2014

Second Sunday of Easter

Homily Notes for the Second Sunday of Easter

As you know, today is still Easter day in the sacred liturgy. The Church celebrates that one day for a whole week and for the liturgy of the Word, the Gospel texts are taken from all four gospel writers and their accounts of resurrection of Jesus. Following the close of this day, the Easter season will continue for fifty days – ending with the celebration of the Ascension and Pentecost.

As a preparation for Pentecost, the first reading of the liturgy of the word will be taken from the book of the Acts of Apostles, and continue reading through the whole book. Acts of Apostles is the second part of Luke’s gospel. It takes us through the unfolding history of the first generation of the Church. This is our story – it is who we are – where we came from  how we got here and why we have gathered in this way to celebrate the sacred mysteries.

There are also a couple other things that make this weekend special. It is Divine Mercy Sunday, established by pope John Paul ll on this day in the year 2000. And on this very Sunday, Pope John XXlll and Pope John Paul ll will be canonized, Saints of the Church.

I find all this quite significant for us at this time in the history of the Church. It is not uncommon to hear it suggested that the Church is in decline and no longer relevant; that perhaps the Church might even disappear, braking into fragmented pieces, replaced by rational thought and technology.

It is because we are surrounded by such a cloud of doubt, that this time in Church is so important for us, and why we must make reading the Acts of the Apostles a central part of our personal faith life, just as the Church makes it so in the liturgy of the Word.

When we turn to Acts and the story of Pentecost, we quickly see that our Church was not made up by the design of a group of people, a work of human enterprise. It comes from God, and is empowered by the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ followers were not great revolutionaries, rather they were a group of frightened and confused and very ordinary people. Then comes Pentecost Day and all is changed in a dramatic moment.

On that very first day, Pentecost day, Acts shows us clearly, that the Church comes under attack. The joyful and exuberant faith of these Spirit-filled people is written off as nothing more than a product of too much alcohol, they are a bunch of drunks. From that first day up to today, the Church is constantly attacked and discredited. This is our constant history.

Acts also shows us how the members of this new Church will be, “a-work-in-progress”, made up of frail humans being, sinners now saved, learning and growing under the constant presence of the Holy Spirit.

So here we are today, the latest additions to this long history. I strongly encourage you to take up your scriptures and read and study the book of the Acts of the Apostles. May these Easter days be as powerful days of healing and building of your faith as they were for that first generation of believers we celebrate through these Easter days.

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