The Easter season is a seven week period that begins with the Easter vigil and concludes with the feast of Pentecost. Most Catholic parishes give attention to the First Communion of children, but this season has a larger purpose:. it’s time for the whole community to be renewed in its faith in the Risen Christ.
“Blessed are they who have not seen, but believe,” Jesus said to his Apostle Thomas, a key figure in the Easter season. John’s gospel recalling the Risen Christ meeting Thomas is read on all three cycles for the 2nd Sunday of Easter. Jesus’ words to Thomas summarize this season: he blesses those who have not seen him.
We have not seen him as his apostles and other eye-witnesses have, but we’re blessed with faith, which is a way of knowing Jesus through sacraments and signs and, most importantly, through loving one another. Relying on the witness of his disciples, we know the Risen Christ in the church and its sacraments, particularly in the Eucharist, and in life around us.
Our faith needs strengthening, however, because our world questions this way of knowing the mysteries of God and Jesus Christ. We also find it hard to give our minds to great mysteries like this; so much else holds our attention. The Easter season brings a renewing grace to us.
Weekday Readings: Octave of Easter
Monday: Acts 2:14,22-23; Matthew 28,8-15
Tuesday: Acts 2, 36-41; John 20,11-18
Wednesday: Acts 3,1-19; Luke 24, 13-35
Thursday: Acts 3,11-36 Luke 24, 35-48
Friday Acts 4,1-12 John 21,1-14
Saturday Acts 4, 13-21 Mark 16,9-15
The weekday readings at Mass for the next 7 weeks of the Easter season come mainly from the Acts of the Apostles and the gospel of John. This is a good time to read the introductions to these books in the NABRE.
The Acts of the Apostles, the second part of St. Luke’s work, describes how salvation promised to Israel and accomplished by Jesus now extends to the Gentile world under the guidance of the Holy Sprit. The same book by which we understand how the church developed in the beginning can help us see how it develops today.
Luke shows the growth of the church from its Jewish Christian origins in Jerusalem to a series of Christian communities that point to Rome, the capital of the civilized world. As our church today continues to become a global church, what can we learn from Acts to help us understand and contribute to its growth in the world today?
The gospels for the octave of Easter are resurrection accounts from all four gospels. Written about 70 AD and after, they are later descriptions of the resurrection of Jesus. Earlier short statements about the resurrection– from the letters of Paul, for example– report the utter amazement of the first witnesses as they met the Risen Jesus and the difficulty they had describing him. He is beyond any experience his first disciples had or knew of.
The evangelists adapt the story of the Risen Jesus to the situation of the churches they’re writing for, which explains the differences in their accounts. They can also teach us about our own church and times. The gospels reveal what we can know about the resurrection, what it calls us to do and what we can hope for.