Throughout the Easter Season, our first reading comes from the Acts of the Apostles instead of the Hebrew Scriptures because it tells the story of the first Christian Community—the continuation of the story of the Resurrection. Because, our story doesn’t end with the Resurrection, but only just begins.
by Jen Schlameuss-Perry
In the first reading, we see that the Apostles continue Jesus’ work in healing the sick and taking care of the poor after Jesus ascended into heaven. The second reading, from the book of Revelation, continues the story of Jesus in heaven—Jesus gives John a message to the Christian Community still on earth—it’s a message of hope and endurance in a time of persecution and fear. In the Gospel, we hear the continued story of Jesus’ appearance to the Apostles before he returned to heaven.
The Gospel is a familiar story, and one that gives one of our Apostles a very unfortunate nickname—Doubting Thomas. Poor Thomas gets saddled with the label of “doubter” for one moment that any one of us could have fallen into—in fact, all of the Apostles are guilty of it, because when Mary told them that Jesus was risen, they didn’t believe her, either. We need to remember that each of us have been “doubters” at one time or another, and we need to remember that that wasn’t the only thing Thomas ever did. When Jesus wanted to go back to Jerusalem for the last time, the other Apostles thought it was a bad idea—Thomas said, “Let us go and die with him.” (Jn 11: 16) He’s super brave. But, that gets forgotten.
One of the most interesting things about the arrangement of these three readings is that they show Jesus in action in our world no matter what his particular “state” is. He is always with us, always present, always guiding and protecting us. Jesus said, “Peace be with you” when he came to the Apostles to show them that he was alive. His presence is peace—and that peace is always available to us no matter our circumstances.
You can read this Sunday’s readings here:
Break Open the Word with Your Family
Poor Thomas got stuck with a rotten nickname because of one thing he did. Do you think that people should be judged by their worst day? Or do you think people should be given other chances? Would you like to be judged by/remembered for the worst thing you ever did? Should you judge others by the worst thing they ever did?
The Resurrection is really when things began to take off for the Christian Community. Jesus spent his time getting the Apostles ready while he was alive here, but their mission to go preach the Gospel couldn’t come until they had gone through some things first. They needed to really get to know Jesus, learn how he did what he did, learn who they were, understand what it felt like to be really scared, disappointed and doubtful, and to experience the Resurrected Jesus so that they could share him with others. They were going to be taking the Gospel to people who would really suffer for it (like Christians in the Middle-East are doing today), and they themselves would be killed for it, so they had to really know that the Resurrection was real. Everything that happened to them was their preparation for what was coming. Do you feel like you know Jesus well enough to risk everything for your faith? Do you believe in the Resurrection, and is it important enough to you, that you would be willing to die for it? (Remember—if you’re not there yet, don’t be hard on yourself—even the Apostles had to grow into it.)
The three readings show us the different ways that Jesus can be present with us. Share some ways that you have found Jesus present to you (i.e., The Eucharist, prayer, other people, the Scriptures, the natural world…).
A little lectio
The ancient practice of prayerfully reflecting on bits of Scripture is known as lectio divina. Want to try it out with your family? Head over to Lectio Divina for Kids to find out how to adapt this prayer practice for your kids.
A little Bible study
Want to do a little Bible study with your kids? Here are some tips:
- During Ordinary Time, the Church pairs the Old Testament and New Testament readings in a way that each sheds light on the other. Ask your kids to look for the common theme connecting the two readings. (Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it is subtle.) How does the “dialogue” between the readings help you understand them better?
- Get a New American Bible, Revised Edition, and take a look at the footnotes for these readings. How do they change your understanding of what is going on?
- Take a look at the context for the readings—what happens before, or after?
- Read the NABRE’s introduction to the book of the Bible that the readings are taken from. How does that help you understand the readings?
- If you don’t have a copy of the NABRE at home, you can view it online at the USCCB website at the Daily Readings web page. (The link will take you to today’s reading; click forward or backward on the dates to get to Sunday’s readings.)
For even more resources for breaking open this Sunday’s readings, head over to The Sunday Website.
The image for Breaking Open the Word at Home is taken from a 17th century illuminated manuscript by an anonymous (but very talented) artist. The text is from the beginning of the Book of Sirach, chapter 1, verses 1-12, which begins: “All wisdom is from the Lord and remains with him forever.”