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.

Sunday, 24 April 2022 : 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, 24 April 2022 : Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Revelations 1 : 9-11a, 12-13, 17-19

I, John, your brother, who shares with you, in Jesus, the sufferings, the kingdom and the patient endurance, was on the island of Patmos, because of the word of God and witnessing to Jesus. On the Lord’s day, the Spirit took possession of me and I heard a voice behind me, which sounded like a trumpet, “Write down all that you see, in a book, and send it to the seven churches.”

I turned to see who was speaking to me; behind me were seven golden lamp stands and, in the middle of these, I saw Someone, like a Son of Man, dressed in a long robe, tied with a golden girdle. Seeing Him, I fell at His feet, like one dead; but He touched me with His right hand and said, “Do not be afraid. It is I, the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead; and now I am alive, for ever and ever; and Mine are the keys of death and the netherworld.”

“Now write what you have seen, both what it is and what is yet to come.”

Sunday, 24 April 2022 : Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 117 : 2-4, 22-24, 25-27a

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 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.

Save us, o YHVH, deliver us, o YHVH! Blessed is He who comes in YHVH’s Name! We praise You from the house of YHVH. YHVH is God; may His light shine upon us.

Sunday, 24 April 2022 : Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 5 : 12-16

Many miraculous signs and wonders were done among the people, through the hands of the Apostles. The believers, of one accord, used to meet in Solomon’s Porch. None of the others dared to join them, but the people held them in high esteem. So, and ever-increasing number of men and women, believed in the Lord.

The people carried the sick into the streets, and laid them on cots and on mats, so, that, when Peter passed by, at least his shadow might fall on some of them. The people gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those who were troubled by unclean spirits; and all of them were healed.

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.