Reflections for the Sundays in Easter

Credit: TeamRCIA

The eight Sundays of Easter have the same overall structure in all three Liturgical cycles. The first four Sunday readings are mystagogical (instructive) in character, asking the whole community to reflect upon the meaning of the resurrection and the gift of the Spirit in our lives. The second four turn our attention to the implications of our rebirth and sealing in the Spirit for our daily lives. What does it mean to be church? What gifts do each of us have for the service of the needs of the world?

Second Sunday of Easter - April 19, 2020

Background: The gospel passage focuses on the story of Doubting Thomas. Some people seem to believe that people of faith do not have any doubts. Yet, as the theologian Paul Tillich often pointed out, doubt is the dynamic element within our faith. Just like in a marriage, the journey of faith is a succession of challenges which must be met one-by-one if our relationship with God in Christ through the sacraments of initiation is to deepen and grow.

Some Discussion Questions

  1. Why did Thomas doubt? What kind of certitude was he looking for? What experiences in life have made us doubt?

  2. What made Thomas come to faith? (Did he ever actually touch Jesus?) Why was he willing to take a chance? What has led us to faith in Jesus whom we cannot see?

  3. What experiences in our life have led us to faith in Jesus? What challenges are we still facing as we await full initiation?

  4. The reading from Acts depicts an idealized early Christian community. What characterizes their life together? What role has the Christian community played in our journey of faith?

Practice: In what way am I trying to improve my personal relationship with Jesus?

Third Sunday of Easter - April 26, 2020

Background: In every cycle this Sunday is about the risen Jesus sharing a meal with his disciples. In Year A (this year) the choice of the Emmaus episode from Luke is especially rich for it evokes one of the most important statements of Vatican II, that there are four real presences of Jesus in the liturgy: in the assembly, in the ministers who serve the assembly, in the Word, and in the consecrated bread and wine.

Some Discussion Questions

  1. Why were the two disciples leaving Jerusalem? What had shattered their faith in Jesus?

  2. Why did the two disciples’ hearts burn within them on the road? When has Christ been really present to you?

  3. Why did they recognize him in the breaking of the bread? What does that tell us about where we might look for Jesus?

  4. Why do the two disciples go back to Jerusalem? What does that tell us about the direction that our own lives should take?

Practice: In what way is my family or household trying to build the presence of Jesus into our life together?

Fourth Sunday of Easter - May 3, 2020

Background: In every cycle this Sunday presents us with Jesus as the Good Shepherd. In a way this Sunday is therefore a pivot. As Psalm 23 declares, the Shepherd both feeds us (last Sunday’s theme) and guides us in the right path (the coming Sundays’ theme). Yet, in line with the selection from 1 Peter, early Christian art portrays the Good Shepherd not as carrying an ordinary crook but rather a cross.

Some Discussion Questions

  1. When have you heard the voice of Jesus calling you? How has he called you by name?

  2. When has he guided you and kept you safe even when you were straying?

  3. What better place do you hope that he is leading you?

  4. Peter says that we are healed by Christ’s wounds. Who are the people who have brought healing to your wounds? Whom have you helped heal?

Practice: Whom do I need to reach out to in my world? The elderly in the neighborhood? The immigrant family down the block? The parish St. Vincent de Paul group?

Fifth Sunday - May 10, 2020

Background: For two Sundays we read from the Last Supper Discourse of John’s gospel. In John’s gospel the lifting up of Jesus on the cross is the beginning of his glorification: resurrection, ascension, and the sending of the Spirit all happen on Easter Day. This discourse is therefore Jesus’s farewell address to his disciples. In this portion he assures his disciples that those who know and believe in him “will do the works I do, and far greater than these.”

Some Discussion Questions

  1. Which of the works that Jesus does has drawn you to him? What has made you put your trust in him?

  2. When have you seen other people doing the works of Jesus? How has their example already affected you?

  3. How has being a disciple of Jesus called you out of your comfort zone? How has your growing awareness of being a Christian changed your outlook and actions?

  4. In today’s reading from Acts different ways of service are being acknowledged. Toward what kind of service do you find your heart being called?

Practice: Which trustworthy person knows you well enough that you could have a conversation with them about your desire to serve others more effectively?

Sixth Sunday - May 17, 2020

Background: As Jesus’s farewell address continues, he tells us that, although we might not see him, his Spirit remains in us and pleads for us. We always abide in his love if we keep his commandments. The prelude to this discourse is the foot-washing episode in which his commandment of love is vividly enacted through humble service.

Some Discussion Questions

  1. How do you know that Jesus loves you? When and where have you experienced that love?

  2. When in your life have you shown others the humble love modelled by Jesus? When have you failed to show that love?

  3. When have you already experienced the power of the Spirit taking you farther than you though that you could go?

  4. What is the most unexpected way that you have found your life changing as you have followed Jesus more closely?

Practice: How has your family or household made an ongoing commitment to support a service organization—not just at Christmas?

Ascension - May 24, 2020

Background: In Matthew’s version of Jesus’s farewell address, his words to his disciples are direct commands: “Go, baptize, and teach!” accompanied by his promise of his ever-constant presence. This passage is referred to as the Great Commission.

Some Discussion Questions

  1. As the time for your own full initiation into the Body of Christ comes closer, how do you feel Christ is already urging you on? Where do you feel called to go and bear witness?

  2. How have your doubts kept you from bearing witness? How were they overcome?

  3. The angel told the disciples to stop looking up into the skies; our lives are lived here on earth. What is still your biggest distraction from the work of building God’s kingdom here?

  4. What special gift do you hope that the Spirit will give you?

Practice: There is a long tradition of prayer between Ascension and Pentecost with many resources available online. Pray this week personally and as a household for a fresh gift of the Spirit.

Pentecost - May 31, 2020

Background: In Luke’s chronology Jesus sends the Spirit on the fiftieth day after the resurrection. In John he sends the Spirit on the evening of Easter Day itself. Whatever the chronology, the crucial point is that the Spirit is sent not upon individuals but upon the whole community which is empowered to proclaim the “marvels that God has done,” especially through sharing peace and reconciliation with all people.

Some Discussion Questions

  1. Who in the community has best modeled for you the transforming power of the Spirit?

  2. What gift(s) do you have to give to the community? How will you build up the Body?

  3. What gift(s) do you have to give to the world?

  4. How might you have to step out of your comfort zone in order to use your gifts?

Practice: Whom do you still need to be reconciled with? To find peace with?

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