Second Sunday of Easter

April 23, 2017

Today’s gospel takes us to an upper room, a room of stale air and the stink of sweating bodies – the smell of fear.  A man comes into this room and offers inner peace and joy.  “Peace be with you” he says.  The first gift of the risen Lord is peace.  “The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord” – that’s the second gift: the joy of the risen Lord.  This is God’s dream for our world: peace and joy.

This is the gift of resurrection that Jesus offers: a new creation.  Note that it is on the first day of the week – the first day is always the day of creation.  Every year we hear this story on the Sunday after Easter.  It is a great story of one of the appearances that took place following Jesus’ brutal death.  And it might sound like an appealing tall tale but totally irrelevant for our world today.

Peace?  Joy?  Reconciliation?  In our world?  The past year has brought us war in the Middle East, terrorist attacks in both the old world and new, Syria, Ukraine, Sudan, Korea – to name but a few of the more horror-filled spots on our earth.  The agenda for the future is more likely what it has always been: hunger, poverty, bloodbaths.  And that’s why we need to hear the story of Thomas each year. 

Tradition has reduced Thomas to “doubting Thomas” – as if the rest of them did not also doubt who Jesus was when he first appeared.  Thomas stands for all of us who now and then wonder if anything good is still possible, in light of the blows life can deal, in light of the horrors we can inflict on each other, in light of the questionable values we find accepted and accept ourselves.

The Easter agenda of peace, joy, and forgiveness can seem like a beautiful illusion.  But that evening long ago those people in the upper room did not cast out the risen Jesus.  They took him at his word and they went forth.  And a dream took root, one that needs to be reaffirmed and recommitted to.  And that’s what I experience here at Christ Our Hope.

That’s why this year for the Annual Catholic Appeal we’re changing course.  In addition to our strong support of programs working together in the Archdiocese of Seattle to accomplish what we cannot do alone, last year we achieved 329% of our goal and received $90,000 back in rebate to complete several of our capital projects.

This year we’re taking on two new ministers, which will put us into deficit spending for a while.  But the expense will be worth the challenge.  Lauren Pusich will take up and continue development of our school and parish immersion programs which bring young people into contact with the reality of life in downtown Seattle.

Donna Tighe is our new pastoral associate whose primary responsibility will be the calling forth of stewardship parishioners – identifying them, supporting them, and thanking them.  And I know we can do this.  Your phenomenal generosity of time, talent and treasure makes this the marvelous parish we all love and support.  Let’s pay off our commitment to the Archdiocese, and make our parish grow.

Let me first introduce Lauren – a young adult from Snoqualmie, graduate from Seattle University, a former Jesuit Volunteer, and now half-time events coordinator for Josephinum residents.  She will take on our immersion programs.  Welcome, Lauren.

And now Deanna Tighe – our new pastoral associate – with a master of ministry from Yale University, missionary work in Africa with Maryknoll, strategist with Catholic Relief Services, campus minister at Duquesne University, pastoral assistant for stewardship at Sacred Heart Church in Bellevue.  Welcome, Deanna.

Here today we too are in a room along with other stewardship parishioners.  Only here it is bread and wine that fuel our future, transformed bread and wine that are truly a gift of the Spirit.  We are the Easter people, sent to bring about God’s dream for our world: peace, joy, reconciliation.  And so we say, “Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!?”  Alleluia!

Paul A. Magnano, Pastor

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