OFFICE FOR LITURGY

of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salford

Second Sunday of Easter or of Divine Mercy (Year A)

Often people forget that Easter is not just a day, but a season - the longest in the Church’s year, in fact! We are given fifty glorious days of Spring and Summer to prolong our baptismal joy, fifty glorious days of basking in the light of the risen Saviour. It seems a shame that after the efforts we put into Lent we don’t celebrate Eastertide with the same enthusiasm. The readings of this Season have their origins in the instruction given to converts in the early Church: in Lent, the readings were the basis of catechesis on the forthcoming baptism; in Easter the readings are “Mystagogy” - a type of teaching where the newly baptised (“neophytes”) learn through taking part in the celebration of the sacraments and hearing the word. On the Sundays we hear who Jesus is, and on weekdays hear about Baptism and the Eucharist. This “Mystagogy” is not just to nourish the neophytes, but to help all of us deepen our life in the risen Lord Jesus. this Sunday we are with the disciples in the Upper Room, where eight days after the Resurrection Jesus comes among them - as he comes among us.

Notes for Readers

First Reading: Acts 2:42-47.
 
The Book of the Acts of the Apostles is a simple history of what happened after the Resurrection - it is Volume Two of Saint Luke’s Gospel. Its simplicity makes it fairly easy to read and understand. Why do we read it in Easter? Simply because it tells us what the Resurrection meant to the first disciples: it was the event that led them out through the known world, witnessing to it. This is the content of the Book: it is the story of testimony to the central event of the Death and Resurrection of the Lord. Each short sentence in this reading is powerful - the example of that first community should challenge us in our parish communities. Proclaim clearly and with simplicity, pausing frequently between sentences and sub-clauses.
 
Second Reading: 1 Peter 1:3-9.
 
A question for the week after the Easter Vigil: What does my baptism actually mean? Saint Peter gives us an answer in this reading: it is a ‘new birth’, ‘the promise of an inheritance’. It is a gift of faith, which means that God will guard us - this makes us glad even though we have to endure hardship now. This reading is in three sections: the first section is the first sentence (complicated in structure - break it up), which is a shout of praise for God’s gift of baptism in Jesus; the second section (up to ‘...praise and glory and honour’) is about faith and what it can achieve; the final section, ‘You did not see him...’ to the end, is a wonderful, forward-looking passage with these marvellous words: “.. .you are already filled with a joy so glorious that it cannot be described.” This is almost ecstatic poetry - it certainly expresses something beyond description. Enjoy this reading: it is complicated, but will amply repay a little work beforehand, working out pauses and proper emphases.

From the Catechism

Appearances of the risen Christ
CCC 448, 641-646

Sanctifying presence of the risen Christ in the liturgy
CCC 1084-1089

The Sunday Eucharist
CCC 2177-2178, 1342

Our new birth in the Resurrection of Christ
CCC 654-655, 1988

“I believe in the forgiveness of sins”
CCC 926-984, 1441-1442

Communion in spiritual goods
CCC 949-953, 1329, 1342, 2624, 2790

CCC 641 - 644
Mary Magdalene and the holy women who came to finish anointing the body of Jesus, which had been buried in haste because the Sabbath began on the evening of Good Friday, were the first to encounter the Risen One. Thus the women were the first messengers of Christ's Resurrection for the apostles themselves. They were the next to whom Jesus appears: first Peter, then the Twelve. Peter had been called to strengthen the faith of his brothers, and so sees the Risen One before them; it is on the basis of his testimony that the community exclaims: "The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!" Everything that happened during those Paschal days involves each of the apostles - and Peter in particular - in the building of the new era begun on Easter morning. As witnesses of the Risen One, they remain the foundation stones of his Church. The faith of the first community of believers is based on the witness of concrete men known to the Christians and for the most part still living among them. Peter and the Twelve are the primary "witnesses to his Resurrection", but they are not the only ones - Paul speaks clearly of more than five hundred persons to whom Jesus appeared on a single occasion and also of James and of all the apostles. Given all these testimonies, Christ's Resurrection cannot be interpreted as something outside the physical order, and it is impossible not to acknowledge it as an historical fact. It is clear from the facts that the disciples' faith was drastically put to the test by their master's Passion and death on the cross, which he had foretold. The shock provoked by the Passion was so great that at least some of the disciples did not at once believe in the news of the Resurrection. Far from showing us a community seized by a mystical exaltation, the Gospels present us with disciples demoralized ("looking sad") and frightened. For they had not believed the holy women returning from the tomb and had regarded their words as an "idle tale". When Jesus reveals himself to the Eleven on Easter evening, "he upbraided them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen."
Even when faced with the reality of the risen Jesus the disciples are still doubtful, so impossible did the thing seem: they thought they were seeing a ghost. "In their joy they were still disbelieving and still wondering." Thomas will also experience the test of doubt and St. Matthew relates that during the risen Lord's last appearance in Galilee "some doubted." Therefore the hypothesis that the Resurrection was produced by the apostles' faith (or credulity) will not hold up. On the contrary their faith in the Resurrection was born, under the action of divine grace, from their direct experience of the reality of the risen Jesus.

Gospel Wordsearch