Reflection on This Week’s Readings

FROM FEAR TO FREEDOM

The disciples had good reason to be afraid. Their teacher, perceived as a threat to social, political, and religious order, had just been crucified; now with rumors swirling about his mysterious resurrection, it wasn’t clear if Jesus’ followers would face the same dire fate on a cross. Today, most of us, fortunately, can live without fear regarding when and where we are able to worship. At the same time, when we take a moment to look at the world around us, it doesn’t take long to notice what a strong influence fear has on our lives.

Fear not of things like tornadoes or spiders or bats, but rather fear of things that keep our hearts closed off from others and God and that keep our truest selves locked up inside. As it was for the disciples in today’s reading, our unaddressed fears can get in the way of our recognizing what Jesus is doing in our midst. They turn us in toward ourselves rather than outward toward those who could be blessed by our gifts and who need our care and love. They keep us from growing in our relationship with God and as the people God has created us to be.

Although it can be scary to acknowledge our fear of being inadequate or of losing control or of being alone, or whatever our deepest fear may be, when we do, that’s when something powerful can happen. A sense of peace and joy is never far away. Not only are we released from our fear, but giving voice to our fears can set others free from theirs as well.

When Jesus appeared to those first disciples locked together behind closed doors, he came offering peace, and he breathed on them the Holy Spirit. In that moment their lives were changed—forever, and for good. The same is true for us when we dare to surrender our fears to God and embrace God’s future for us with courage.

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READINGS FOR THE SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER
The church keeps Easter for eight Sundays. Early Christians referred to Sunday as the eighth day, as if the normal week of seven is miraculously completed in an extraordinary eighth day. The fifty days culminates at Pentecost. Each Sunday, individually and communally, we meet the risen Christ in word and sacrament.
The church continues the pattern alluded to in John’s gospel, of assembling on the first day of the week to receive the Spirit of the cross and resurrection and to exchange the peace of Christ. As we expect of John, the narrative in chapter 20 testifies to the identity of Christ as Lord and God. For Christians, to touch Christ is to touch God, and we do this in the flesh of our neighbor’s hand at the peace and with the bread of Christ in our palm at communion.
Throughout the Sundays of the fifty days of Easter, passages from Acts proclaim the meaning of the resurrection. In today’s idyllic description of the primitive community, we see that the resurrection of Christ changes the values of believers, and their sense of self embraces the whole community.
Throughout the weeks of Easter, year B reads through 1 John. Chapter 1 proclaims the resurrection with language of eternal life, the light of God, and forgiveness. Christ is not dead but appeals for us before the Father.

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