At my mother’s funeral vigil, a woman approached me to give her respects. Thankfully, I recognized her as a childhood friend from our old neighborhood. As we hugged, she whispered: “Your mother was always so kind to me. She taught me about God, and I will never forget her.” I recalled how this girl would come over to play jacks, but I now realize so much more was occurring within our home. Looking back, my mother, who had an open door policy, must have seen the marks of sadness in this young girl—and reached out with God’s mercy.
Today’s Gospel from John accounts the disciples’ first encounter with the risen Lord. They were able to recognize Jesus through His wounds—the marks of His love. From this Sunday’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we are given a picture of the early Christians, who “bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus” by making sure no person was in need.
In his book, Evangelizing Catholics: A Mission Manual for the New Evangelization, Scott Hahn claims the early Christians bore witness to a radically different life through the way they loved one another within the family and the way they extended mercy to others. While pagans abandoned their own children and parents during the great plagues of the first century, Christians tended to the wounds of the sick and dying—Christian or pagan—at the risk of their own lives. The pagans who were recipients of God’s mercy, “wanted what the Christians had—serene happiness, not to mention joy, courage, community, and good health.” They yearned for the peace and joy of living life through the lens of the Resurrection.
The Christian family continues to witness to Christ by countering our culture’s consumerism and individualism. Author Leonard Doohan asserts that Christian families committed to healing wounds often take long-term risks in caring for others through personal sacrifice: “Nowadays, the public witness to evangelical simplicity and poverty is more clearly appreciated in family life, where the witness is corporate, long range, and lived in insecurity.”
Through the Holy Spirit, members of the domestic church serve as beacons of light in our often-hurting world. We name grace—God’s healing presence—by attending to the wounds of others, no matter the cost. We teach our children and grandchildren to be attentive to the suffering, loneliness, and sadness of their siblings, neighbors, and classmates. The domestic church transmits a powerful witness by providing housing for an unwed mother, a bouquet of spring flowers for an elderly neighbor, or a place to play jacks for a lonely little girl.
I recently discovered a handwritten note sent to my mother from a woman whose husband had died: “Be assured I am deeply grateful for your love, for your caring, for your support and for your spiritual help.” Our home served as a witness to the risen Lord, although my parents probably didn’t think in those terms—it was simply the way they lived as believers. As we are sent forth from the Eucharistic table this Sunday, may we witness to the Resurrection by binding up wounds. His mercy endures forever. Now, that’s good news!
How will your family witness to the Resurrection?
How have you experienced God’s mercy?
The blog on this page presents reflections on the Sunday readings through the lens of a parent/grandparent, aiding leaders of the domestic church in their vital task as “first heralds” or “first preachers” of the Good News in the home.