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Breath of the Spirit
Pastoral, Liturgical, Teaching, and Social Justice Moments brought to you by DignityUSA.
Breath of the Spirit is our electronic spiritual and liturgical resource for our members and potential members. Nothing can replace your chapter or other faith community but we hope you will find further support here for integrating your spirituality with your sexuality and all the strands of your life.
In some sense, our forgiveness of others is the most practical way we make Jesus’ wounds our wounds. Every day we surface occasions to do so.
APRIL 3RD, 2016: SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER
Revelation 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19
I frequently quote Fr. Ed Hays’ insightful comment, “Jesus’ original followers imitated him long before they worshipped him.” It would seem many of his modern followers are content simply to worship him, and never think of imitating him. Yet as we know from the earliest biblical account of the Lord’s Supper in I Corinthians 11, taking from the cup at that meal originally committed the person to carrying on Jesus’ ministry. The historical Jesus went to his death knowing at least a handful of his disciples would continue the work for which he was giving his life. They had bought into his value system.
We must always keep this in mind when we read the Christian Scriptures. They weren’t composed for people mining for Scripture proofs. They were written to help people reflect on what actually happens when one tries to become another Christ.
That’s why, for instance, today’s Acts passage was composed. Though Luke’s helping his community look more into the future than reflect on the past, he’s also trying to point out that when they actually live their lives with Jesus’ value system, they’ll achieve some of the same things the historical Jesus achieved. “Signs and wonders were done among the people.” In this case, people were cured of demons which not only brought disorder in their lives and the lives of others, but also affected the environment in which they lived.
Of course, as Luke mentions, because of the effect they were having, some dared not join them. As Jesus quickly discovered during his earthly ministry, there will always be those who thrive on the evil which such disorder brings at the same time he and his followers are trying to eradicate it.
Afraid the apocalyptic genre of our second reading doesn’t fit well into the general idea of people using the Christian Scriptures to reflect on their experiences. That’s why, for the next few Sundays we really shouldn’t get too excited about our passages from the Book of Revelation. (Some scholars, like Dominic Crossan, actually question why this writing is even included in our biblical canon. He points out that many of its passages – like those talking about taking revenge on our enemies – totally contradict the rest of the Christian Scriptures.) Yet we can appreciate why the persecutions which many in the early church were enduring forced some individuals to ignore the present and project themselves into a future revolving around visions, messages from heavenly creatures, and assurances that one day the risen Jesus will see to it that things get better and our persecutors will suffer the consequences of their actions.
Meanwhile, today’s pericope from John – proclaimed every year on the Second Sunday of Easter – leads us to reflect on what happens when we’re open to Jesus’ Spirit working in our forgiveness of all around us. Instead of being content to live in a world in which people labor under the guilt which comes from the sins we’ve retained, we actually create a totally new environment by our forgiveness.
In some sense, our forgiveness of others is the most practical way we make Jesus’ wounds our wounds. Every day we surface occasions to do so. Since scholars commonly believe no one who ever knew the historical Jesus ever wrote anything about him that we possess today, Jesus’ remark about “those who have not seen and have believed” becomes quite significant. Not only must we the readers deal with just the risen Jesus, so did the author of John’s gospel! We’re in the same boat.
It’s both encouraging and disturbing to realize that neither of us are exempt from always reflecting on being other Christs.