Preaching for the Second Sunday of Easter is Sponsored by Ann M. Avitabile in Memory of Casty Avitabile
de Souza, MCJ
The Gospel of this Second Sunday of Easter is around the skeptical, cynical and unbelieving realist called Thomas. He is there to help us capture the presence of the Resurrected amidst us today. The community narrates to Thomas their experience: "We have seen the Lord," but Thomas responds, “Unless I see the nail holes in his hands, put my finger in the nail holes, and stick my hand in his side, I won’t believe it.”
For Thomas, things could not be otherwise than how they are. He is a prototype of pragmatic thought. Things cannot change because there is a long history of failures and useless attempts that demonstrate it. In fact, Thomas has his senses hardened.
But what Jesus asks of us is that you and I open up to a new dimension. When he gives us the gift of faith and we welcome it, we discover that reality is inhabited by a presence filled with unsuspecting possibilities and oversights. We do not have to see in order to believe, but believe in order to see.
When we touch the Resurrected in today’s crucified, touch the wounds of those whom our system tries to make invisible, we admit like Thomas: "My Master! My God!" (MSG.)
Reading the gospel of John, we ask for that grace that we touch and are touched by, that we feel interiorly the depth of suffering there is in the world today, symbolized by Jesus’ passion, suffering and death. We ask for the consolation to capture the footprints of the Resurrection in life, in the Church, in the world... and that experience is always of humility, oftentimes made so through the eyes of faith.
Like Thomas we travel with faith and hope, not vision. We continue searching for Him and we realize the Resurrected is already around us. If we do not have faith, we cannot detect signs of the Resurrection. We would not be able to discover the same mystery that surrounds a seed, always on the side of the small, something simple that comes without a shine. We have the capacity to detect these delicate experiences which exist, amongst those of pain. It is always difficult to capture these gems. They are not triumphant, but they are first. The Resurrection is a risk that does not understand the calculated rounds in paradoxes.
So how do we live this communion of the resurrected in the crucified? How do we touch his wounds in our system, and yet be with the resurrected?
There are four elements in any Easter story we could look for :
1. Expect the resurrected in the unexpected. . . in our simple, mundane everyday living.
2. Jesus is with the living, not with the dead. Wherever there is a cry for life, he is there. In the uprisings in the different parts of the country against domestic violence, He is there.
3. But He has risen to another level. And we too go further then Don Quixote fighting windmills, we continue fighting for a better life, demanding our rights, sharing our gospel and human values and attitudes, struggling for equality of all human beings and respect for all.
4. We are asked to reflect regularly and practise our faith in the Resurrection . . . to spend some time each day detecting these signs in our daily life, to continue confronting perplexities.
For this, we only need to have an attitude of reverence, respect for common growth and common space for experience. We need to commit ourselves to the invitation to share the vision of and be companions of Jesus.
If the Resurrection is Christianity’s defining moment, it is also the moment that brings to question the different ways the Christian Church as an institution has traditionally treated women. In this regard, the patriarchal foundation of the resurrection story is obvious. Although the wind is blowing in the direction of inclusivity, the forces of patriarchy within the universal church still hold sway, and it will take a while before the events of that first Easter Sunday make a difference in the way women are treated not just in the Catholic Church but within the wider Christian family. Butremember, women were the first communicators of the resurrection story and we still are... in this context of patriarchy and hierarchy.
Yes, we women are the wounded, sharers in the crucifixion of today, but I prefer to see us in our power, being bearers of Good news with the ability to touch the fragility of the Resurrection today.
And so, when women refuse to assume those values of a patriarchal society that are dehumanizing and they propose with their life, ways of being and relating ‘otherwise’, we touch the Resurrection.
When a woman breaks the circle of submission and violence, when she dries her tears and lifts her head, we touch the Resurrection.
When women unite in order look for paths for united solutions, put their hands together in order to change situations of pain and suffering for abundant life, we touch the Resurrection.
When women study and get ready to overcome discomfort, mistrust, prohibitions and complexities, we touch the Resurrection.
No small attempt made to improve the life of those who are more discounted, gets lost in a vacuum and we have seen this time and again.
And yes, women are rising - from our silence, bondage, exclusion, exploitation, we rise into hope, freedom, speech, power, partnership, significance, we rise into the future.
In conclusion, we ask You, Spirit, to pour on us the gift of counsel so that we may learn to accompany others, make us present where there is pain and suffering, inspire us with your words of encouragement and hope, that we may be your presence with our gestures and words.
Noella de Souza, MCJ
I belong to a community of women religious, the Missionaries of Christ Jesus, and have trained in Education, and Psychotherapy and Counseling.
I have been working in the field of education for the last forty years, working to see that all children in India get equal and a quality education which is their right. Being a member of the Core Team of a prominent NGO in Mumbai, I work as a research writer to bring about reforms in educational content and pedagogy. We have developed unique supplementary courses for children being used in all 946 Mumbai Municipal Schools.
In recent years, sexual violence towards women and even very young girls have shocked the nation. It has also forced everyone to talk about an issue that has been brushed under the carpet so far.Our kit on Gender Equality aims to fill that vacuum.
In my capacity as Psychotherapist and counsellor I work mainly with women who have problems with identity, self esteem, efficacy and worth.
Women’s empowerment, our rights and gender equality has also been primary to me. A member of Satyashodak, a women’s collective, I have been actively involved in bringing justice to cases of sexual abuse in the archdiocese of Mumbai and further afield.
The long years of career with my varied involvements, along with Church decrees and documents, have always enabled and given focus to my reflection and thus also urged me to pre-empt other religious to work on their own reflections.
My personal spirituality built on the history of Hope leads me on, a spirituality built on people who through the ages have engaged in creating a better world where different ways build up different pieces of the canvas. For my reference I have the gospels and the history of peoples struggles. For support, I have many working in varied fields, interacting and networking with them.
Jesus was no different from the rest of us. His example of going beyond leads me on.
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