Saturday, April 22, 2017

Second Sunday of Easter Cycle A

Welcome to read homilies for the Sundays of the year. These are sample homilies which you can read with devotion. You may use them in your own homilies without asking my permission. You may also change or edit these to fit them to your audience. A unique quality of these homilies is that they are Christ-filled. From beginning to end they present to us some aspect of Jesus so that beholding his glory we “are being transformed from glory to glory into his very image” (2 Corinthians 3:18 NAB).

The Second Creation Has Already Begun

According to the scientists, even those who believe that it was God who created this world, creation began some 13 billion years ago. This began with the famous Big Bang wherein a very great mass of matter exploded and ultimately became the stars with their planets including our own universe.

So the world was not created in 6 days as we read in the first chapter of the Bible. According to the commentary in our translation, the New American Bible, the reason why "God's creative activity is divided into 6 days (is) to teach (us) the sacredness of the sabbath rest on the seventh day in the Israelite religion." The creation of our world was actually accomplished in billions of years, not in 6 days.

That was the first creation. The second creation is nearer to us in time. It began only more or less 1,984 years ago. While we did not see how the first creation was done, we have an idea of how the second creation began. We are seeing the first creation in our everyday lives. We do not see the second creation, but we can feel it happening in our heart.

We know that the second creation has already begun because of a detail in our Gospel reading which is mentioned twice by John the writer of this Gospel. That detail is in verse 19 and again in verse 26. The doors were locked but Jesus came inside the room. How was he able to come inside the room when the doors were locked? John used the plural "doors". In other words all entries or passages to that room were locked. But Jesus came inside anyway. How was he able to do this?

He was able to do this because he had a new body already, one that could, as it were, pass through heavy objects. This body is the first object in the second creation. The second creation had begun in the resurrected body of Jesus. Actually Jesus did not need to pass through any door to come to that room. He was there all the time. We know he was there because he knew the conversation of the apostles and that Thomas had said, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe." Rather his body, a real body, became visible when he wanted to be seen by the apostles gathered there.

St. Ambrose, the bishop of Milan who baptized St. Augustine, has a beautiful description of the effect of Jesus' resurrection on our world. In his address on the Resurrection of Jesus he said, "The universe rose again in Him, the heaven rose again in Him, the earth rose again in Him, for there shall be a new heaven and a new earth." Notice the past tense used by St. Ambrose. The universe rose, the heaven rose, the earth rose. A new universe was formed within this old universe. And this began with the resurrection of Jesus, more or less one thousand nine hundred eighty four years ago.

The scientists propose 10 possible ways our world will end. Kier Harris has a very readable and interesting summary of the 10 theories on How the Universe Will End written online last April 11, 2014. He starts with the Big Crunch theory which is the opposite of the Big Bang and ends with the Eternal Universe theory which means that our universe will die and live again as it were in a never ending cycle. We do not bother ourselves with these ten theories on how the world will end. They are interesting but they are only theories, guesses backed by some kind of evidence.

Peter the Apostle of Jesus told us plainly how this world would end. He wrote, "The present heavens and earth are reserved by God's word for fire. . . . The day of the Lord will come like a thief, and on that day the heavens will vanish with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and all its deeds will be made manifest." (2 Peter 3:7, 10).

What is not known by many is that this process of ending this universe is already being done. Paul the Apostle comments in his first letter to the Corinthians that "the world as we know it is passing away" (7:31). Yes, this universe which we know is passing away and a new creation is ongoing.

A new kind of body has been introduced into this world, the resurrected body of Jesus. And that is the kind of body that we will have. The process of putting on this body has already begun, in Jesus completely and in us, partially. Paul in his second letter writes, "This means that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old order has passed away; now all is new!" (5:17)

Yes, the new creation is being formed now. The second creation has already begun. Jesus triumphantly declares, “See, I make all things new!” (Revelation 21:5). 

Actually Jesus is described as the first fruits of this second creation. We find this is the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians. He says, “Just as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will come to life again, but each one in proper order: Christ the first fruits and then, at his coming, all those who belong to him. (15:22-23).

And we who belong to him, who are now being transformed into his image in the second creation, rejoice. This is the evident in our first reading. The first Christians “ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart, praising God and enjoying favor with all the people.”

Our second reading is very explicit on this rejoicing. Peter tells even us several centuries after he wrote this letter, “Although you have not seen him you love him;
even though you do not see him now yet believe in him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

That is the real reason why we rejoice during this Easter season. Jesus is risen! Yes, but this also means that we are being raised with him unto a completely new life. Our souls are saved, as Peter says.

Let us pray thanking God for raising Jesus from the dead and for raising us from our old life. We bow our heads.

Father God, you raised your son Jesus from the grave and started the second creation in him. By means of this you also begin to transform our life to be like his. Thank you for giving the resurrected body to your son Jesus. Thank you also for transforming our lives together with him. By the power of the Holy Spirit we respond to your creative action in our life. Amen.

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Note for the readers:

The Mass readings are from the New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE). This is where our Lectionary gets the readings.

NAB stands for New American Bible (before it was revised). This is the translation I use. Unless otherwise stated the text I use is from this translation.

AV stands for Authorized Version of the Bible. It is more commonly referred to as the King James Bible. It is the version most used in English literature, therefore it is the one known more by the English speaking world.

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