Sunday, April 07, 2024

Who We Are, Where We Come From...

2nd Sunday in Easter

(Divine Mercy Sunday)

Readings: Acts 4: 32-35; Psalm 117 (118) :2-4, 15-18, 22-24; 1 John 5: 1-6; John 20: 19-31

Picture: By Irene Jiang on Unsplash

Everywhere we go, people want to know,

who we are, where we come from. So we tell them…

My dear friends, do these words sound familiar? Some of us may remember singing them in the military, as part of a marching song. The singing isn’t just to tell people who we are, and where we came from. Particularly during a long energy-sapping route march, the singing also helps to boost morale. It spurs the singers to press on. In the process, their identity is strengthened. And, by their endurance, they are able not just to tell others who they are, but to show them. Through both singing and marching, a corporate identity is imparted, moulded and shown. We find something similar in our scriptures today.

In the gospel, when the Crucified and Risen Jesus appears to his frightened disciples, in addition to sharing greetings of peace, the Lord does three things to show them who he is. First, we’re told that he came and stood among them. Then, he showed them his hands and his side. And, third, he breathed on them the power to forgive and retain sins. These three actions – coming, showing and breathing – mirror the water, the blood, and the Spirit. The three signs that, the second reading says, bear witness to the Lord’s identity as Son of God. The water of baptism, in which Jesus was immersed, to express his solidarity with our sinful humanity; the blood of sacrifice he shed to free us from slavery; and the Spirit of power, by which he gathers us into one Body.

And more than just proving to his disciples who he is, Jesus is also imparting and moulding their identity. From now on, they too will be known by the water of solidarity, the blood of sacrifice, and the Spirit of power. These are the signs by which we Christians show who we are, and where we come from. Proving that, in Christ, we have been begotten by God, adopted as God’s children. And that we’ve already overcome the world, with its anxious craving for riches and honours, and its desperate need to keep comparing and competing with others. Isn’t this why the early Christians in the first reading are able to treat their own property no longer as possessions to be jealously hoarded, but as gifts to be generously shared, especially with those who might be in need? And why, elsewhere in the Acts of the Apostles, they show others who they are, by reaching beyond their community, to preach the Word, and heal the sick (Ac 3:1ff)?

Even so, while it may be true that we have already overcome the world, isn’t it also true that we have not yet completed our march through this earthly life? Isn’t this why we need this beautiful season of Easter? When, by joyously uniting to sing Alleluia, and to reach out to those in need, we allow the God of everlasting mercy to continue moulding our corporate identity as Christians, for the life of our troubled world.

Sisters and brothers, could it be that everywhere we go, people need to know, that who we are, and where we come from flow directly from the tender mercies of God? What can we do to deepen this God-given identity of ours this Easter?

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