Sunday, 11 April 2021 : Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today marks the last day of the Easter Octave and also the Second Sunday in the season of Easter. According to the declaration of Pope St. John Paul II at the canonisation of St. Faustina Kowalska in the Jubilee Year of 2000, the Second Sunday of Easter ever since has also been known as the Divine Mercy Sunday. The devotion to the Divine Mercy continues to spread in popularity ever since it was made known by St. Faustina Kowalska herself, in the visions she received of the Lord in His Aspect as the Divine Mercy.

On this Sunday, as we celebrate this Feast of the Divine Mercy of God and the Second Sunday of Easter, we are brought to attention through the Scripture readings of the wonderful graces that God has given us through His Church, all that He had done for us and what it is we then ought to do as Christians, as those who truly believe in God, in Him as Our Lord and Saviour. We have seen the Light of God’s salvation through Christ, Our Saviour, and through Him we have received the assurance of eternal life and glory, if we held on to our faith firmly in Him.

In our first reading today, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, we heard the way that the early Christian communities had lived, in how they showed great care and concern for one another, in how they lived in communal living, sharing their blessings and possessions with one another, in being selfless in their actions and in helping sincerely those who were in need within their communities. Through those examples, we are shown that indeed it is possible for us to live our lives entrusting ourselves to the Lord and resisting the temptations of worldly desires.

And all of them believed in the Lord, their Saviour, Whom St. John in his Epistle to the faithful today spoke of, as the One Who had conquered death and triumphed over the darkness and evil. Christ has overcome death through His Resurrection and by His love for us, for each and every one of us He has endured the worst of punishments and humiliations for the sake of our salvation, our liberation from the tyranny and bondage of evil and death. Through Him, we have received the assurance of a blessed new existence, if we are to seek Him with all of our hearts and strength.

But as we heard in our Gospel passage today, many of us still hesitate to believe in the Lord wholeheartedly or to entrust ourselves to His love and care, and we still have doubts in our hearts, like what St. Thomas the Apostle showed us. We all know what happened as described in today’s Gospel, as St. Thomas publicly doubted the Resurrection and refused to believe that the Lord has risen from the dead. He has always been the most skeptical among the disciples, and happened to be absent during the time when the Lord appeared before His disciples for the first time after His resurrection.

St. Thomas doubted the Lord and said that he would only believe if he could prove that the Lord was indeed risen from the dead, only to be humbled when the Lord Himself appeared right before him and told him to prove everything just as he had said. St. Thomas believed and said to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord and my God’. He and all the other Apostles and many of the disciples of the Lord witnessed the Risen Lord in person, and from then on, became courageous and faithful witnesses of His truth.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, we may be thinking that St. Thomas was lacking in faith and was a doubtful person, but before we make any judgment on his actions, we ought to remember very well that it is perhaps and likely what we ourselves had done as well. Have we not doubted the Lord at some point in time in our lives? Have we not placed Him to the sidelines and forgotten about Him, prioritising more on other things in life, or treating Him as One Who is not significant and does not really exist?

St. Thomas in fact represent all of us, the people of God. There are many of us with different experiences and varying levels of faith and devotion. And at some point, we may have grown weak in our commitment to the Lord and begin to doubt Him, based on our own experiences, or when we were distracted and tempted by the many worldly temptations and concerns that we turned away from the Lord and began to idolise other things like money and material possessions, fame and prestige. At times, we have fallen in our path and lose our way like St. Thomas had experienced.

As we can see, the Lord did not choose perfect people to be His disciples, and rather, He called and chosen people who would have otherwise be overlooked by the society. He called the uneducated, those who were deemed as sinners and unworthy, people of no renown and those who were ordinary, to be His disciples and followers. But what was amazing is that He transformed them all from their ordinary existence into a new extraordinary existence through faith. That was how all the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord could courageously stand up for their faith and endure the bitter persecutions of those days.

And the words of St. Thomas as he came to witness the Lord, Risen and alive in the flesh, is the same words that we also utter at the moment of the Transubstantiation, when the bread and wine offered in the Holy Mass, by the power of God through His priests are transformed in reality, matter and essence to the very Precious Body and Blood of Our Lord Himself. And when we see Him lifted up before us, we say, ‘My Lord and My God’ just as St. Thomas did. It is of us that the Lord had spoken, that even though we have not seen Him in person, but we believe, and we are blessed because of that.

We believe that the Lord is truly present in the Eucharist, really present in His Body and Blood, and which we receive and partake together as one Church. And we believe that He has given us all these so that through His sacrifice on the Cross, we may be saved and be freed from the tyranny of sin. In the words of St. Faustina Kowalska, the visionary of the Divine Mercy, and which is mentioned in every recitation of the Divine Mercy prayer, ‘Eternal Father, I offer you, the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, of Your only beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the atonement of our sins and those of the whole world’

In tandem with what we heard from St. John, this is our Christian faith, brothers and sisters in Christ, in God Who is so loving and merciful towards us, that even as we have sinned and disobeyed Him, and doubted Him again and again as St. Thomas had done, and abandoned Him like the other disciples, denied Him like St. Peter, not once but thrice, but God’s love and mercy are still greater than all those, and if He forgave all of them, and made them to be worthy disciples and Apostles, then certainly He will forgive us all our sins as well.

This is the power of forgiveness from Our Lord, the Divine Mercy of God, the healing and reconciliation that have come through the loving sacrifice of Our Lord on the Cross at Calvary. This is the power of God’s compassionate mercy through which He assured us of victory and triumph over sin and death, over the chains that had kept us trapped and enslaved all these while. However, are we willing to embrace God’s mercy and forgiveness, brothers and sisters? Are we willing to be reconciled with Him?

We often do not realise what God’s mercy and forgiveness really mean. And many of us think wrongly that the Lord in His mercy and as the Divine Mercy will forgive us all of our sins and allow us to continue committing those sims again and again, essentially condoning our sinful way of life and our state of sin. No, brothers and sisters in Christ, the Lord indeed forgives us freely and generously, but if we are to be fully forgiven, then we have to embrace His forgiveness, and this requires for us to repent, turn away from our sins and seek to walk in the path of the Lord.

Do we all remember the Lord speaking to the woman who was caught in the act of adultery, that He did not condemn her, but also telling her at the same time, ‘Go and sin no more’? This is what the Lord wants from us, a heart that yearns for Him, that is filled with the desire to love Him, and full of faith and believing wholeheartedly in His Resurrection and the salvation which He has therefore brought unto us, through His Passion, suffering and death, and glorious Resurrection.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all entrust ourselves to the Divine Mercy of God, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Let us all put our trust in Him, knowing that He has loved us so dearly and so patiently, and let us be filled with genuine regret and the desire to repent from our many sins, the sins which have been purchased and forgiven through the shedding of the Body and Blood of Our Lord on the Cross, the perfect sign of His eternal love for us.

Let us all not be stubborn and doubtful anymore, but acknowledge the Lord just as St. Thomas had once done, and humble ourselves before Him, allowing Him to lead us in our way, so that we may truly serve Him faithfully as Christians, and contribute in whatever way we can, to move forward with the many works of the Church of God in our world today, for the greater glory of His Name. May God be with us all, and may He, the Divine Mercy, forgive us all our sins, and embrace us all sinners, who desire to return to Him and be reconciled with Him. Amen.

Sunday, 11 April 2021 : 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, 11 April 2021 : Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 5 : 1-6

All those, who believe that Jesus is the Anointed, are born of God; whoever loves the Father, loves the Son. How may we know, that we love the children of God? If we love God and fulfil His commands, for God’s love requires us to keep His commands. In fact, His commandments are not a burden because all those born of God overcome the world.

And the victory, which overcomes the world, is our faith. Who has overcome the world? The one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus Christ was acknowledged through water, but also through blood. Not only water, but water and blood. And the Spirit too, witnesses to Him, for the Spirit is truth.

Sunday, 11 April 2021 : Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 117 : 2-4, 16ab and 17-18, 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 YHVH say, “His loving kindness endures forever.”

The right hand of the Lord is lifted high, the right hand of the Lord strikes mightily! I shall not die, but live to proclaim what the Lord has done. YHVH has stricken me severely, but He has saved me from death.

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

Sunday, 11 April 2021 : Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 4 : 32-35

The whole community of believers was one in heart and mind. No one claimed private ownership of any possessions; but rather, they shared all things in common. With great power, the Apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, for all of them were living in an exceptional time of grace.

There was no needy person among them, for those who owned land or houses, sold them and brought the proceeds of the sale. And they laid it at the feet of the Apostles, who distributed it, according to each one’s need.

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.

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

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 2 : 42-47

The people were faithful to the teaching of the Apostles, the common life of sharing, the breaking of bread and the prayers. A holy fear came upon all the people, for many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the Apostles.

Now all the believers lived together and shared all their belongings. They would sell their property and all they had and distribute the proceeds to others according to their need. Each day they met together in the Temple area; they broke bread in their homes; they shared their food with great joy and simplicity of heart; they praised God and won the people’s favour.

And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.