Cycle (A) 2nd Sunday of Easter

Acts 2:42-7; 1 Pet. 1:3-9; Jn. 20:19-31

Once two seeds were carried by the running water from a mountain top. They rolled down the hill to the valley. The seeds got deposited on the banks of the stream. Eventually the seeds sprouted. The small plants began to grow into tress. One tree grew very fast. Its branches spread far. It was filled with green leaves. When spring came, it

flowered; and in autumn it was filled with beautiful and attractive fruit. Its lovely fruit attracted birds that fed gleefully on them. It became the pride of the area. On the other hand, the other tree was almost stunt. It didn’t have any fruit on it. It didn’t any flower to attract butter flies. Neither did it have many leaves or branches.

One day torrential rain beat down, and the wild wind spread havoc. The large tree, too, was not spared. It got uprooted and fell. While falling down it was stopped by something by half way. It looked up to see the supporting hand. To its surprise it found that it was resting on the small tree. Out of dismay the large tree asked. How comes that you are not affected by the wind and rain? In these inclement conditions you are able to hold me too. What is the secret of your strength? The stunt tree answered; while you were busy spreading your branches and decorating you with your leaves and flowers, I was busy sending down my roots to strengthen me.

This is the secret of the success of the early Christian community, too. They had strengthened their roots in their faith in the risen Lord. Today's First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles [Acts 2:42-7] describes the life of the early Christians. They learned and practiced the teachings of the apostles.  They worshipped in fellowship.  They participated in the breaking of bread. They devoted themselves to prayers. These practices of the early Christians strengthened their roots. So, neither the persecution nor the temptations of the contemporaries could affect their faith in Jesus.

In the Gospel we find that Jesus had strengthened His disciples to accept the challenges. Jesus breathed on His disciples and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit." [Jn. 20:21-2 The Book of Genesis uses the same imagery to explain creation of man: "Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being." [Gen. 2:7] When the Lord God breathed into the first man he became a living reality. When the Holy Spirit was bestowed upon the apostles, they became new creations. This experience compelled them for a total surrender.

When Jesus appeared to the disciples Thomas was absent from the group. So, when the other disciples shared their experience that they had seen Jesus Thomas refused to accept their testimony. The Gospels present Thomas as a man who was ready to take any risk at the side of Jesus. When Jesus received the message of the death of Lazarus, He decided to go to Jerusalem; but His disciples tried to dissuade Him from going to Jerusalem since the Jews sought His life. Thomas, however, showed his determination and said: “Let us go and die with him.” That is the man who refused to accept the message of the other disciples. He wanted a personal experience. So when Jesus came the second time to His disciples He called Thomas to experience Him personally. His personal experience compelled him to confess, “My Lord and my God.” That personal experience led them for a complete surrender. That personal experience led him to unknown lands. He travelled miles and reached as far as India to bear witness to Jesus.

This is what faith in the Risen Lord really means: a complete and joyful surrender to the plans of God for each one of us.

When we hear the phrase "surrender to God" we might think that we are going to stop living. The truth is: we will start living! Surrendering means to start living with a purpose - the purpose that God has planned for us.

Jeremiah says, "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”(29:11) God has a plan for our lives! We can give up our selfish desires, put our futures in the hands of God, and He will take us far beyond our dreams! 

The supreme act of surrender which the believer is called to emulate is the surrender of Christ first as coming into the world as God incarnate and then the surrender to the Cross in the act of sacrificial atonement, breaking the curse of sin and death from the fall of the first man.

Surrender is noted in Christian doctrine as one of the three columns of victorious living. Hence, the Christian Flag, which represents all of Christendom, has a white field, with a red Latin cross inside a blue canton.  A White Flag is linked to surrender.

All the great people have emphasized on the need to surrender to God for achieving success. St. Teresa of Avila remarked, “We can only learn to know ourselves and do what we can / namely, surrender our will and fulfill God's will in us.”  Sri Sathya Sai Baba reminded his followers that “Once we surrender our mind to GOD completely, HE will take care of us in every way.” 

Ramakrishna Paramhansa was deeply convinced about the importance of surrender. He said, “God has put you in the world. What can you do about it? Resign everything to Him. Surrender yourself at His feet. Then there will be no more confusion. Then you will realize that it is God who does everything.”

It is binding that we should cultivate the virtue of surrender to God.  It should be practiced in our day to day life. When we  give up our  opinion for the common good,  when we accept  an unjust humiliation, when we support the just cause of our colleague, when we postpone our interest for the sake of the  family, we  are surrendering our will  and accepting God’s will. Thus we will be able to strengthen the roots of our faith. May the risen Lord help us in our endeavours.