PRESENCE, AND ITS CONSEQUENCE
HOMILY – 2 EASTER 2017 [John 20:19-31]
During this Easter week I visited my 98 year old aunt in Auckland. She is the last of my parents’ generation and though frail still lives in her own home. While with her, the parish visitor came for her weekly visit, bringing Communion. When the visitor realised I was there, she suggested I should lead the service, but I declined and sat with my aunt as her sister parishioner shared the Eucharist with her. It was a privileged experience and opened my eyes to a fresh appreciation of the presence of Jesus.
The visitor and my aunt obviously knew each other very well. They met often, they have a shared history of parish life, their faith means the world to them, and their devotion to the Eucharist is profound and moving. If I had led the service, there would have been a different formality, and an absence of what the familiar visitor contributed.
I participated in the service from the side line. There was delight in the arrival of the visiting friend and a loving warmth as they greeted each other. I listened as the gospel of the day was read and was aware of its message connecting our small gathering with the faith of generations. There was time and a felt need to pray for others, especially the sick and lonely; and then there was great reverence as the Bread of Life was held and given and received
I could not have witnessed a better example of what it means to be “Church” and realised this experience was an almost exact replica of what is spelled out for us in today’s Eucharist. The first Christian communities were characterised as groups faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the sharing of their lives with one another, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers. I experienced this in my aunt’s home and was reminded that this is what I am meant to witness in every Eucharist – what you and I should be experiencing at this very moment, in this gathering:
- We come, faithful to the teaching of the apostles as proclaimed to us in the readings;
- We have an awareness of being together, a certain unity among us;
- We are part of the Breaking of Bread, and our prayers join us to those not here, to the sick, the troubled, the departed…
Mercy makes sense in this context, for it crowns the resurrection of Jesus with the celebration of the purpose of Christ’s coming: to heal, to bring about a wholeness in people – a wholeness and confidence that would catapult them into people’s lives and into history. The 2nd Sunday of Easter is so aptly named, Divine Mercy Sunday.
As the Father sent me, so am I sending you! (Gospel) – to be messengers of peace, messengers of mercy.
I witnessed that message being delivered in the visit with my aunt. It is the message we must carry with us at all times, to all places, to everyone. It is the message that announces the presence of Jesus in the most positive and endearing way.