Sunday, 28 April 2019 : Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday, the second one in the entire season of Easter, we celebrate also the occasion of the Divine Mercy Sunday, which was instituted by Pope St. John Paul II in the year of 2001, after many years since the vision of St. Faustina Kowalska, to whom the Lord appeared in His aspect of Mercy, instructing her to celebrate the Feast of the Divine Mercy on the Second Sunday of Easter.

And she was also instructed to spread the practice of the Divine Mercy Novena, a nine days devotion which lasts in the period between Good Friday, the day when Our Lord Jesus Christ suffered and died for us on the Cross, and that of the Feast of the Divine Mercy itself on this day, the second Sunday of the Easter season. Therefore, we can clearly see the link between what we celebrate on this day with the moment of the Lord’s Crucifixion and death, the hour of which, at about 3 pm, is called as the ‘Hour of Mercy’.

In this season of Easter, it is most fitting indeed for us to focus our attention of the Lord, the Divine Mercy, as in truth it was the boundless, enduring and ever-present love that God has for each and every one of us sinners and unworthy people, that has allowed Him to extend such a wonderful and gracious mercy towards us. He does not want us to be destroyed and annihilated because of our sinfulness, and therefore, wanted to give us another chance.

That is why there is an emphasis on the work of mercy that Our Lord has done on Good Friday, on the very day when He willingly laid down His life, by bearing the heavy burden of the Cross, so that each and every one of us may be saved from damnation for those sins that we have committed. He loved us all so much that He was willing to lay down His life, as the sacrificial Victim, by Whose death we have been reconciled with God, our loving Father.

The Lord has shown us such great love and mercy, in reaching out to all of us, who are sinners and wicked, and He wants to heal us from all of our brokenness and unworthiness. He Himself showed us all throughout His life and ministry, in how He reached out to the worst of sinners, to those whom the rest of the community had dismissed as being hopeless and unworthy to be saved, like the tax collectors and prostitutes.

And that was what the disciples in our first reading today, taken from the Acts of the Apostles had done, continuing the good works of the Lord’s merciful love, by ministering to the poor, the sick and the dying, providing them with both physical and spiritual care, and healing those who were sick by the virtue of the power granted to them by the Lord. And they ministered to the people in various places.

It is what all of us have also been called to do, to follow in the footsteps of the Lord Himself and His disciples, in doing the works of mercy in our daily living. Why is this important, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is because, after all, we must not forget that God has forgiven us all and shown mercy to all of us, despite of our countless and enormous, unimaginably wicked and despicable sins born out of our disobedience against Him.

And if God is willing to forgive us all these wickedness and all the countless wicked things we have done, then we too should show this same mercy towards one another, to all those whom we encounter in our own lives, following what God has first done for us. Otherwise, our faith and our love for God is not complete, as if we do not do what He Himself has done, then how can we truly call ourselves as those who believe in Him?

But many of us have not been able to show mercy in our own actions and deeds in life, especially because we acted in the manner as how St. Thomas the Apostle had done, as mentioned in our Gospel passage today. St. Thomas has shown us all in our Gospel today, his lack of faith and doubt in the Lord’s resurrection, and he has always been the skeptical one, to the point of sarcastically commenting before the other disciples that the Lord was leading them all to their death when He was about to go to Jerusalem for His Passion.

And when the disciples saw the Lord and witnessed His resurrection, St. Thomas doubted and refused to believe the words of the other disciples, to the point that he publicly mentioned that he would not believe unless he was able to prove it by his own hands, that the Lord Jesus truly rose from the dead and not just an apparition or a ghost. He wanted to see if the One Who appeared was truly the crucified Christ.

This is exactly what many of us are suffering from as well, this inability to have that genuine faith in God, in His love and in His mercy. And the main reason for this is exactly because of the pride and the hubris, the ego and ambition that are within each and every one of us. It was ego and pride that prevented St. Thomas from acknowledging the truth and the reality of the Lord’s resurrection from the dead as he could not accept what might seem to be improbable and illogical to him.

That was how many among the Pharisees, the teachers of the Law and the members of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish High Council also refused to believe in the Lord and in His teachings even though they should have been the ones who would have recognised Him first as the Saviour and Holy One of God. Pride and ego, their refusal to admit their mistakes and shortcomings, caused them to harden their hearts and to close their minds to the Lord.

That was how many of us also refused to accept God’s mercy and love in our lives, thinking that we have no need for healing or that we are all good and perfect. But this is where we are exactly very, very wrong brothers and sisters in Christ. All of us are wounded by sin, and by sin we have been corrupted and made unworthy, and unless God’s mercy and healing grace come upon us and heal us, we will have no part in God.

And if we close ourselves to God’s mercy and love, we will also likely have no mercy and love in ourselves, and our lives will end up very miserable, for to us, everything around us will become filled with fear, with hatred, with jealousy, ego and pride. And we will be drawn even deeper into sin, into defilement and corruption, and eventually, unless God’s mercy come towards us and we accept His mercy, we will face nothing else but annihilation.

That is why, all of us on this day, on the great Feast of Our Lord, the Divine Mercy, first of all we must lay ourselves humbly before God, humbling ourselves and dying to our pride and ego, and casting out from ourselves all these stumbling blocks and obstacles that can prevent us from seeking and from receiving God’s mercy and forgiveness. And when we have opened ourselves and given ourselves to God’s loving mercy, it is when God will complete His merciful works in us.

And then, having received God’s mercy and understood the truth and the meaning of His mercy, I am sure that we will be able to appreciate how we should also be loving and be merciful in our lives. Let us not forget that all of us mankind are equally sinful before God, equally wicked and unworthy, and we should show God’s mercy and love through our own actions, that more and more people will come to see God, the Divine Mercy through us all.

All of us as Christians are called to follow in the footsteps of Our Lord and His Apostles, who have shown mercy in all things. Let us all be humble, be merciful in everything we say and do, and let us all be role models and guides for each other that we may grow in mercy and love, and draw ever closer to Him, Our Lord, the Divine Mercy, by Whose love we have all been saved. May the grace of God, the Most Divine Mercy remain with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Sunday, 28 April 2019 : Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 20 : 19-31

At that time, on the evening of the day when Jesus rose from the dead, the first day after the Sabbath, the doors were locked where the disciples were, because of their fear of the Jews. But Jesus came, and stood among them, and said to them, “Peace be with you!” Then He showed them His hands and His side. The disciples kept looking at the Lord and were full of joy.

Again Jesus said to them, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent Me, so I send you.” After saying this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit! Those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; those whose sins you retain, they are retained.”

Thomas, the Twin, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he replied, “Until I have seen in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in His side, I will not believe.”

Eight days later, the disciples were inside again and Thomas was with them. Despite the locked doors Jesus came and stood in the their midst and said, “Peace be with you!” Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see My hands; stretch out your hand, and put it into My side. Do not be an unbeliever! Believe!”

Thomas then said, “You are my Lord and my God.” Jesus replied, “You believe because you see Me, do you not? Happy are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

There were many other signs that Jesus gave in the presence of His disciples, but they are not recorded in this book. These are recorded, so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Believe, and you will have life through His Name!