Sunday, 19 April 2020 : 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 Sunday in the season of Easter we celebrate what is known as the Divine Mercy Sunday as instituted by Pope St. John Paul II in the Jubilee Year of 2000 AD. This Divine Mercy Sunday was instituted according to the visions of St. Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun who saw the vision of the Lord in His aspect of the Divine Mercy a few times and wrote about her experiences, which took a few decades before they were officially approved and accepted by the Church.

In those visions of the Divine Mercy, St. Faustina Kowalska saw the Lord appearing to her and showing her His infinite and great mercy, His love and compassion for all of us mankind. The Divine Mercy of God manifested to her in His divinity, pouring forth from His heart two bright rays of red and white shining forth showing the outpouring of the love of God to us mankind, His divinity and humanity mingled into one, and by His Most Precious Blood we have received, we have been healed from our sins.

The Lord called for this devotion to this Divine Mercy to be made popular and spread among His people, dedicating the second Sunday in the season of Easter to be the Divine Mercy Sunday, as a kind reminder that this joyful and wonderful Easter season is a time for us to appreciate just how fortunate we have been that the Lord had gone through the worst of sufferings and humiliations that He bore in His Passion and death, that through Him and His Resurrection, we now receive the assurance of life eternal.

The Divine Mercy devotion calls on us all mankind to focus our attention once again on the Lord, to ask Him for His mercy on us and the whole world through His wondrous saving work, in the shedding of His Body and Blood, as a perfect offering for the redemption of our sins. That is why the Divine Mercy devotion has in particular become very popular and widespread as the world and many people seek healing from the Lord for their many ailments, the sickness of sin and the corruption of evil in our lives.

Through the Divine Mercy of God, all of us are brought to remember that Christ our Lord is our Eternal High Priest Who has offered Himself for the atonement for our sins, as we recall this whenever we recite the Divine Mercy chaplet and prayers with the words, ‘Eternal Father, I offer You, the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world,’ and the other one ‘For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and the whole world.’

Through all of these, and linking with what we have just heard in our Scripture passages today, we will realise that we have to have faith in the Lord and believe that through Him there is a hope for us and for our salvation. That is why we heard of the story of the doubt which St. Thomas the Apostle had in our Gospel today, when he, usually the most doubtful and cynical of the Apostles, refused to believe that the Lord had risen from the dead, and wanted tangible proof before he was to believe that the Lord had indeed been resurrected.

It was only when the Lord Himself had appeared before him and the other disciples that St. Thomas came to believe in the Lord and in His Resurrection. St. Thomas from then on became a firm believer, and since then he laboured hard for the sake of God and His people, ministering to the various communities and proclaiming the truth of the Gospel to many others, founding the community of Christians in the southern parts of India, known as St. Thomas Christians who endured for many centuries and beyond after until this very day. St. Thomas himself was martyred in the defence of his faith in God.

What we have heard thus far is a reminder for each and every one of us to have more faith in God, to believe in His ever generous and wonderful mercy. God has always been merciful to us, loving and ready to forgive us, and He extends this rich offer of mercy without any hesitation at all. But it is us mankind who have hesitated, took our time, being stubborn and resisted the efforts of the Lord Who has tried to be reconciled with us. We are like St. Thomas who doubted the Lord, who refused to believe fully and unconditionally, or worse still, like many of the Pharisees who hardened their hearts and minds, refusing to believe in God’s truth.

Many of us carry on living in the state of sin, living our lives as we have lived them so far, indulging in all sorts of evils and wickedness. But we must realise that sin is truly dangerous and unless we get rid of ourselves these sins and wickedness, we are in great danger of falling into eternal damnation because of those sins. This is because death and hell are the consequences for our sins, and unless we repent from them and are forgiven and reconciled with God, we may end up in an eternity of regret and despair.

It is God alone Who is capable of healing us from our sins, making us good and whole again. No one else has the power to forgive our sins, and that is why we need to have this forgiveness and healing by the Divine Mercy of God. In this Sunday, we are all called to focus our attention on the Divine Mercy, His loving face and countenance directed towards us, His ever present care and compassion towards our fallen state and our wretched situation. This is why we need to focus our attention to the Lord and embrace His mercy.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are all called to be the disciples of the Lord in all things, to be His followers and to bring forth His mercy, His light and love to all the people of God. We are all called to share this faith which we have, to embrace this love and mercy and show them in the same manner to our brethren out there who are still living in the darkness, to those who are still ignorant of the truth of God, those who have yet to know of God’s infinite love and mercy.

The Lord wants us all to bring forth this light of hope, the hope for the Divine Mercy to our fellow brethren, just as how St. Faustina Kowalska tried for many years to bring forth the attention to the devotion to the Divine Mercy according to the visions that she had received. And this is important especially in our troubled and darkened times, during this particularly difficult year when the whole world is facing so many challenges, from the pandemic that occupied the minds of most people and made many suffer, to the other forms of natural disasters and also political instabilities suffered by several communities.

During this time, many people do not know where they ought to turn to for help, and many people has lost their path. They sought consolation in other things, either to distract themselves from the sorrow, or to find temporary happiness or pleasures, which would not last. This is why we should be the witnesses of Christ our Lord, the Divine Mercy in our communities and in our families, among every brothers and sisters whom we encounter in our daily lives and whom we interact with, and even with the strangers and other people we encounter as well.

Let us all, through our words and actions bring forth the exemplary Christian faith and life that shine brightly as beacons for others to follow, to inspire others and to guide many in their path of life, that they may find true consolation, happiness, joy and peace in God, the Divine Mercy, Who is ever ready to forgive us and to be reconciled with us, and Who is always ever filled with love, in each and every moments of our lives. May God continue to guide us all in life, and may He grant us the courage and strength to be ever more faithful, now and always. O Divine Mercy, we trust in You. Amen.

Sunday, 19 April 2020 : 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!

Sunday, 19 April 2020 : Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Peter 1 : 3-9

Let us praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for His great mercy. In raising Jesus Christ from the dead He has given us new life and a living hope. The inheritance that does not corrupt nor goes bad nor passes away was reserved to you in heavens, since God’s power shall keep you faithful until salvation is revealed in the last days.

There is cause for joy, then, even though you may, for a time, have to suffer many trials. Thus will your faith be tested, like gold in a furnace. Gold, however, passes away but faith, worth so much more, will bring you in the end praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ appears.

You have not yet seen Him and yet you love Him; even without seeing Him, you believe in Him and experience a heavenly joy beyond all words, for you are reaching the goal of your faith : the salvation of your souls.

Sunday, 19 April 2020 : Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 117 : 2-4, 13-15, 22-24

Let Israel say, “His loving kindness endures forever.” Let the house of Aaron say, “His loving kindness endures forever.” Let those who fear the Lord say, “His loving kindness endures forever.”

I was pushed hard and about to fall, but the Lord came to my help. The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation. Joyful shouts of victory are heard in the tents of the just : “The right hand of the Lord strikes mightily.”

The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing and we marvel at it. This is the day the Lord has made; so let us rejoice and be glad.