Sunday, 24 April 2022 : Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday, the Second Sunday of Easter marks the Feast of the Divine Mercy, as instituted by Pope St. John Paul II in the Year of Our Lord 2000 based on the visions of the Divine Mercy by St. Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun who received mystical visions and experienced the Lord’s Divine Mercy before her, showing His wounds and hurt, all that He had done in offering Himself, Body, Soul and Divinity for the salvation of the whole entire world. We are reminded today through this important Feast and also through the Sacred Scriptures, of the reason why we celebrate so joyfully this Easter, not just for one day but for one entire season lasting fifty days until Pentecost Sunday.

In our first reading today, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, we heard of the works of the Apostles among the people of God as they had been entrusted with the mission by God to bring forth the salvation and the graces He has willingly bestowed to His beloved people. They performed many miracles and wonders among the people of God, in various places, courageously proclaiming the Risen Lord and Saviour by their words and actions. The people witnessed those miracles and believed in the Lord Jesus, Who has once also performed those same miracles, and healed the hurt of their body and soul. He has touched them, either directly or through His disciples and made them whole again.

The people were all seeking the Lord, all bringing their sick ones to Him, and they also brought the same sick ones to the disciples and the Apostles of the Lord. Through them, God continued the works of His love and mercy in our world, as He showed His generous mercy and compassion, by which He had desired to gather all the people to Himself, and to be reconciled with us. And that was why He sought even the worst of sinners, the tax collectors, prostitutes, criminals and all those who had been ostracised by the society, that He might touch their hearts and change their lives for the better. And it was proven well enough by the response that those people long considered sinners and unworthy had been giving the Lord.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard for ourselves that even among His own closest confidants, there were sinners and people who doubted Him, as I am sure we are all familiar with how St. Thomas the Apostle, one of the Twelve Apostles reacted to the news of the Lord’s resurrection from the dead. Throughout the Gospels, St. Thomas had always been a skeptic of the Lord, and he had a lot of doubts, even to the point of openly doubting the Lord and being sarcastic at Him, for example, when He was going to Judea to face His Passion and death, as St. Thomas sarcastically commented that they, the disciples, should all follow the Lord to their deaths.

We have to remember and take note how the Lord called interesting mix of people to be His followers and disciples. He had among them, a tax collector in Levi, who was later known as St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist, and then four poor and likely illiterate fishermen from the lake of Galilee, the first ones whom He had called, namely St. Peter and his brother, St. Andrew, and then the brothers, St. James and St. John, the sons of Zebedee. Then of course we have St. Thomas himself, who always ever doubted the Lord, and St. Simon, a former zealot who was probably part of the rebellion against the Romans and thus was perhaps a fugitive or criminal in the eyes of the law, and Judas Iscariot, the traitor who betrayed the Lord.

We see that the Lord chose the poor, the marginalised, the ordinary and sinners to be His disciples. There were mix of different characters and personalities among His followers, and this represents exactly what the Lord wanted to do among His people. He came to gather all the lost sheep of the Lord, those who have fallen astray and fell into the wrong paths, scattered and lost from Him, so that through Him, and through the truth, light and hope that He has brought into our midst, He may restore us all to grace, and strengthen us to be once again a people that is holy and worthy of God.

Through His appearance before all the disciples in today’s Gospel, and before St. Thomas, who had defiantly proclaimed before all the others that he would not believe in the Lord’s resurrection unless he could directly prove it by touching His wounds and putting his finger into the wound at the Lord’s side. The Lord appeared before him and all the other disciples, surely as a direct response to what St. Thomas had said earlier on regarding the resurrection. And sure enough, He asked St. Thomas directly to do what he had said that he would do in order to prove the truth about the Lord’s resurrection.

We heard how St. Thomas responded immediately with faith, most likely both awed and ashamed at his own words, actions and doubts earlier on. He said, “My Lord and my God”, the same words that we always say at every moment after the Agnus Dei, or the Lamb of God segment in the Holy Mass. St. Thomas earlier on had been inflicted with doubt, with his own pride and ego became his own undoing. Why did he refuse to believe in God earlier on? That is because he operated on his own standards, and he placed a lot of trust in himself and in his own judgment rather than believing in God and His truth. He was skeptical because in his mind and logic, it was impossible for something like that to happen.

And yet, it did happen. The Lord, Who is God Incarnate, the Son of God, had descended into our midst, to be with us, and to suffer and die for us. And not only that, He rose gloriously from the dead, and all those things are impossible for man, and yet, for God, everything is possible. He came into our midst, and through His love, His patience and mercy, His compassionate care for us, His outreach even to the worst of sinners, and to those who doubt like St. Thomas and many others who still refused to believe in Him, the Lord revealed that He came to save us, to make us all to be reconciled with Him, He, the Divine Mercy, made manifest in the flesh.

In the Holy Mass, whenever the priest or any of the celebrants raised the consecrated bread and wine, the Most Holy Eucharist, which had been transformed by the power of God through His Holy Spirit and by the power and authority entrusted by the Lord through His disciples, and when the words are said, ‘This is the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world. Happy are those who are called to the supper of the Lamb.’, we are presented with this seemingly impossible event, of a mere bread and mere wine, transformed completely into the reality and nature of Our Lord’s own Precious Body and Blood.

And yet, He is there, for us, on the Altar, just as at the Altar of His Cross at Calvary. The Holy Mass, as we all should know, is the same sacrifice and offering that Our Lord Himself had offered on the Cross, two millennia ago, which then, mystically and most wonderfully, is shown to us again and again, at every celebration of the Holy Mass. At the Mass, as the Lamb of God is presented to us, and we respond to the celebrant with the same words that St. Thomas had spoken, we are all reminded that by Our Lord’s most compassionate love and mercy, He, the Divine Mercy, had availed Himself to give unto us the finest path towards reconciliation to Him, through the Eucharist.

He broke His own Body and shed His own Blood at His Passion, suffering and death on the Cross, because He loved us all so dearly and tenderly. Each and every single one of us are so precious to Him, that His love for us transcends and surpasses even our sins and wickedness, which had kept us separated from God and the fullness of His grace and love. That is why this Sunday, on this Feast of the Divine Mercy, celebrated so close to the Easter Sunday, we are reminded of everything that Our Lord had done for us, all that He had done, because of the overflowing love and generous mercy which He had shown us, from the beginning right up to now.

At the same time, we have to realise that while Our Lord’s love and mercy are infinite and boundless, but our sins remain as obstacles in our path towards the full reconciliation with God. Sin is borne out of our disobedience against God and our refusal to listen to Him, and each and every single one of our sins have to be accounted for before we are to be fully reconciled with God, and enjoy the fullness of our joyful and wonderful inheritance. And God had given us plenty of means for us to find this, through His Church, in the Sacraments that He had provided for us, but which we often rejected and ignored.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us ask ourselves these important questions before we move on with our lives. As Christians, have we truly wholeheartedly believed in God, in all of His truth, in His love and His mercy? And in our actions and words, in our attitudes and dealings in life, have we truly reflect what a Christian is expected to be and what a Christian should do? Or have we instead been more like St. Thomas, doubting and refusing to believe in the Lord, full of pride and ego, to admit that we can be wrong and that we are in need of healing and forgiveness for our sins?

As Christians, all of us are called to be faithful and dedicated witnesses of Our Lord’s truth, His love and resurrection, His mercy and compassion. That is why in our daily lives, all of us must do our best to proclaim this truth, not just with mere words, but also through our actions. It is not enough for us to just believe in the Lord, but we must also be filled with the courage to reach out to our fellow brothers and sisters around us, with the love and mercy of God shown through us and our actions. It means that in all of our interactions and dealings, we must indeed be missionaries of mercy, and to remind everyone of the love that God has for each one of us.

Let us all remind one another, that as long as our sins are not forgiven, because we still stubbornly refuse the Lord and reject His generous mercy, then we will be stuck in this state, separated from God, and in real danger of falling into eternal damnation. Let us remind one another that God is ever merciful, and He has always patiently loved us, despite our many transgressions. Let us stop being stubborn, humble ourselves and open our hearts and minds to allow God and His love to enter into us and transform us from beings tainted by sin and darkness, to be true children of the Light, and to be witnesses of Our Lord’s truth and resurrection.

May the Lord, the Divine Mercy, continue to shine His loving face and show His most merciful and compassionate love towards us. And may all of us draw ever closer to His love and mercy, and do our best in each and every moments of our lives to be ever more exemplary sons and daughters of God, and as genuine and faithful Christians, beloved ones of the Lord, at all times. For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world! Amen.

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