Second Sunday of Easter (Low Sunday)
Today’s reading from the Gospel of John is proclaimed on the Second Sunday of Easter in each of the lectionary cycles. This fact alone should alert us to the significance of the encounters with the resurrected Jesus that are described in this reading. This Gospel combines two scenes: Jesus’ appearance to his disciples after his Resurrection and Jesus’ dialogue with Thomas, the disciple who doubted.
Part of the mystery of Jesus’ Resurrection is that he appeared to his disciples not as a spirit, but in bodily form. We do not know, however, exactly what this form looked like. Earlier in John’s Gospel, when Mary of Magdala first encountered the risen Jesus, she did not recognise him until he spoke to her. In Luke’s Gospel, the disciples walking along the road to Emmaus did not recognise Jesus until he broke bread with them. We know from readings such as today’s that in his resurrected form, Jesus was not bound by matter; he appeared to the disciples inside a home even though the door was locked. Yet the disciples could still touch the marks of his Crucifixion.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus greets his disciples with the gift of peace. Jesus then commissions his disciples to continue the work that he has begun; as Jesus was sent by God, so Jesus sends his disciples. He gives his disciples the gift of the Holy Spirit so that they will be able to accomplish this task. Jesus’ words to his disciples also highlight the integral connection between the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. With the grace of the Holy Spirit, we can share forgiveness and reconciliation with others.
Thomas, the doubting disciple in today’s reading, represents the reality of the Church that comes after this first community of witnesses to Jesus. All but the first disciples of Jesus must believe without seeing. Like Thomas, we may doubt the news that Jesus, who was crucified and buried, appeared to his disciples. Our human nature seeks hard evidence that the Jesus who appeared to his disciples after his death is indeed the same Jesus who was crucified. Thomas is given the opportunity to be our representative in obtaining this evidence. He gives witness to us that the Jesus who was raised is the same Jesus who died. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are among those who are blessed, for we have not seen and yet believe. Courtesy Loyola Press
The first Sunday after Easter has traditionally been called "Low Sunday". The origin of this name is not certain but it is believed to have come about simply to distinguish it from the great Easter festival of the preceding Sunday, which has been called "High Sunday". There is no truth in the explanation facetiously put about by some clerics that Mass attendance is typically low on this Sunday in comparison to Easter Sunday!
This week's newsletter is available on-line. It has the readings and prayers for today's Mass on the back page which may be useful for those of you at home watching the streamed or recorded Mass. You can read it by clicking here.
Parish Development Project Appeal
Further good progress has been made this week with the completion of the plastering, the laying of the floor and the first coats of paint. There are some photographs on this site taken this week to show progress. The money received in response to the appeal for funds to complete the new parish room project continues to rise and has now reached £9,915, but we are still over £5,000 short of our target. Thank you to all those who have already donated – we are extremely grateful. If you have not already donated, then it is not too late. You can make a cash donation by leaving money in an envelope, suitably marked “Parish Room” and leave it in the collection box at the back of the church, or pop it though the presbytery letter box. You can make a direct payment to the parish bank account using the details here – please use the payment reference “Parish Room”. Or you can make a donation via your credit card using the Donate button on this page. If you do donate, and you are a tax payer, then please do Gift Aid any donation as this will increase its value by 25% as we will be able to reclaim the tax you have already paid on the money donated. If you can help, please read the letter from Fr Mathew here, and find out how to make a donation.
Prayer for the Election of a Bishop
O God, eternal Shepherd, who govern your flock with unfailing care, grant in your boundless fatherly love a pastor for your Church who will please you by his holiness and, to us, show watchful care. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for us.
S. Felix, pray for us
All holy Martyrs & Saints of East Anglia, pray for us.