It is so easy to forget we are loved. That’s why God gave us his Son — and the church.
A Reflection for the Second Sunday of Easter
Readings: Acts 4:32-35 1 John 5:1-6 John 20:19-31
It is so easy to forget that we are loved! The people who love us must tell us so over and over again, especially when we say goodbye to them or when it is time to go to bed at night.
God loves us. God created us and the world. If you take time to look around at the world, especially in spring, you realize how wonderful it is. And if you take some time and look at yourself, you will see the very same: You are such a wonder! You might find yourself saying, “Wow, somebody really loves me!” But so often we forget to take a look at ourselves or the world. If we did, we would remember that God loves us.
Whatever else sin is, it is always a forgetting that we are loved by God. And the more we sin, the more we forget. Maybe instead of creating a new word “sin” we should have called wrongdoing “our forgetfulness.” Sin begins when we forget that we are loved by God. Then we become afraid and choose something less than being happy in God’s love.
Whatever else sin is, it is always a forgetting that we are loved by God. And the more we sin, the more we forget.
So God found another way to tell us that we are loved. God the Father sent his only Son, Jesus, to live with us. He taught us that God loved us; he healed us when we were sick; and Jesus undid the forgetfulness of sin. He did this by never forgetting that he was loved by his Father, not even when, in our forgetfulness, we made him die on the cross.
People who love us must say it over and over again. Of course, there are ways of saying it without words. A hug is a good way of telling us that we are loved. So is a kiss. Ice cream is not bad either.
When it came time for Jesus to return to his Father, he wanted to find a way to stay with us. But how do you give somebody a hug or kiss, how do you say “I love you” when you go off to be in heaven with God the Father?
Jesus came up with a wonderful idea. He created the church, a family of love. As we love each other here on earth, we share the love of Jesus. To be in the church is to love Jesus in the people around us, even those who are not easy to love, at least not for us.
Maybe instead of creating a new word “sin” we should have called wrongdoing “our forgetfulness.” Sin begins when we forget that we are loved by God.
In the story that St. John shares with us, Jesus is already in heaven with his Father, but he is still here, through the power of his Spirit, in the circle of his disciples. They are the church. Poor Thomas does not understand this. Having seen Jesus die on the cross, he has forgotten that God loves him, and he is so afraid!
But the disciples are gathered together, so Jesus comes to them in the power of his Spirit. He shows his body to Thomas. Jesus tells Thomas to touch him. Jesus probably gave Thomas a hug as well. Sometimes we need to see and to touch to remember that we are loved.
That is why Jesus gave us his body and his blood in the sacrament that we call “holy Communion.” It is his way of telling us and showing us that we are loved. Once the church has gathered and prayed, this is no longer bread and wine, though it still looks like that. Now it is the very body and blood of Jesus, the same he gave to us on the cross and at the Last Supper.
It is so easy to forget we are loved. God the Father understands that. That is why he sent his Son to be with us.
The older you get, the more you forget. That is why Jesus gave us the church and his body and blood. The next time you are scared or lonely, come to receive the body and the blood of Jesus. You can even come to church and just be with the body and blood of Jesus, present in the tabernacle.
When you miss people you love, especially those who have died and have gone to live with Jesus, come to receive his body and his blood. They are with Jesus, and Jesus will be with you. So they will be with you also, everyone saying “I love you” to each other in holy communion.
It is so easy to forget we are loved. God the Father understands that. That is why he sent his Son to be with us. And Jesus knew it as well. That is why he gave us his Holy Spirit, whom we cannot see. But, like St. Thomas, we need to see and to touch. That is why the Holy Spirit lives in the church, giving her the very body and blood of Jesus.