READINGS AND REFLECTION
Divine Mercy/Second Sunday of Easter – 19 April 2020
Acts 2:42-47 – The faithful all lived together and owned everything in common
THE whole community remained faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers.
The many miracles and signs worked through the apostles made a deep impression on everyone.
The faithful all lived together and owned everything in common; they sold their goods and possessions and shared out the proceeds among themselves according to what each one needed.
They went as a body to the Temple every day but met in their houses for the breaking of bread; they shared their food gladly and generously; they praised God and were looked up to by everyone. Day by day the Lord added to their community those destined to be saved.
1 Peter 1:3-9 – You did not see Christ, yet you love him
BLESSED be God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy has given us a new birth as his sons, by raising Jesus Christ from the dead, so that we have a sure hope and the promise of an inheritance that can never be spoilt or soiled and never fade away, because it is being kept for you in the heavens.
Through your faith, God’s power will guard you until the salvation which has been prepared is revealed at the end of time. This is a cause of great joy for you, even though you may for a short time have to bear being plagued by all sorts of trials; so that, when Jesus Christ is revealed, your faith will have been tested and proved like gold – only it is more precious than gold, which is corruptible even though it bears testing by fire – and then you will have praise and glory and honour.
You did not see him, yet you love him; and still without seeing him, you are already filled with a joy so glorious that it cannot be described, because you believe; and you are sure of the end to which your faith looks forward, that is, the salvation of your souls.
John 20:19-31 – Eight days later, Jesus came again and stood among them
IN the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.
‘As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.’
After saying this he breathed on them and said:
‘Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.’
Thomas, called the Twin, who was one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.
When the disciples said, ‘We have seen the Lord’, he answered, ‘Unless I see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe.’
Eight days later the disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. The doors were closed, but Jesus came in and stood among them. ‘Peace be with you’ he said.
Then he spoke to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Doubt no longer but believe.’ Thomas replied, ‘My Lord and my God!’
Jesus said to him: ‘You believe because you can see me. Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.’
There were many other signs that Jesus worked and the disciples saw, 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, and that believing this you may have life through his name.
Now that Easter and its Octave is over, I will write the Reflection only on Sundays and major Feast Days. Please watch out at our website: https://stsimonlikas.wordpress.com/.
– Fr. Cosmas Lee
THE Octave of Easter is over. We are into the Second Sunday of Easter. Since the Great Jubilee 2000, this Sunday has also been named “Divine Mercy Sunday” by the Great Saint Pope John Paul II.
Chronologically, the gospel reading today takes us to two appearances of the Risen Lord: one on the first Easter Sunday evening, the other, eight days later, that is, evening today Second Sunday of Easter. So appropriate! One without the doubting Thomas, the other with him.
In conjunction with the naming of “Divine Mercy Sunday” on the occasion of the canonization of Sister Faustina Kowalska, John Paul II wrote on 30 April 2000:
“It is important then that we accept the whole message that comes to us from the word of God on this Second Sunday of Easter, which from now on throughout the Church will be called “Divine Mercy Sunday.” In the various readings, the liturgy seems to indicate the path of mercy which, while re-establishing the relationship of each person with God, also creates new relations of fraternal solidarity among human beings.”
Let’s first look at the simple and clear message of the Risen Lord at the first appearance today:
- Peace, “Peace be with you”!
- Evangelization, “As the Father sent me, so am I sending you”.
- Gift of the Holy Spirit, “Receive the Holy Spirit”
- Gift of Mercy and Forgiveness, “For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven”.
Now, the Lord’s message for us spoken to Thomas in the second appearance:
‘You believe because you can see me. Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.’We are MORE BLESSED than Thomas because he actually had to see…if we BELIEVE without physically seeing!
In 2000, 20 years ago, John Paul II began with two very disturbing questions, questions that have returned and haunted us as we face the present pandemic of COVID-19 and its aftermath:
“What will the years ahead bring us? What will man’s future on earth be like?”
Then, the Great Pope who had personally suffered much during WWII and seen much evil and its devastating consequence, said that the answer to the world’s woes is MERCY, not human mercy, but DIVINE Mercy.
And he shared on how the message of St. Faustina tremendously helped those who suffered during the War to hold on to hope: “JESUS, I TRUST IN YOU!” (Christ Jesus, I trust in Your MERCY!).
John Paul also said that that Divine Mercy was captured and embodied by St. Faustina personally as she wrote in her diary: “I feel tremendous pain when I see the sufferings of my neighbours. All my neighbours’ sufferings reverberate in my own heart; I carry their anguish in my heart in such a way that it even physically destroys me. I would like all their sorrows to fall upon me, in order to relieve my neighbour.”
Victorious Divine Mercy appeared to the disciples on the evening of the Resurrection. And the first word He uttered was “Shalom”! How can there still be trouble? For even the most troublesome instrument, death, has been overcome. Peace, all is well, mercy is now risen, it is available. Mercy Incarnate had been sent by the Father. In turn the Mercy Risen now sends His disciples to offer God’s mercy and forgiveness.
To transform the human into divine in the disciples, the Lord breathed His own living breath on them and gave them the Holy Spirit, the Gift of God’s Mercy and love. It is the new breath of life eternal, a divine power that would fill them with Divine Mercy and empower them to become Evangelizers of Mercy like their Master before them.
And in case the disciples still could not understand what He was doing by His Shalom and His breathing them with His own Breath, Jesus explained: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven”. It is the power to extend the Mercy of God to all, to forgive sins, sins of the greatest and the least of all sinners.
And John Paul affirmed: “… the light of divine mercy, which the Lord in a way wished to return to the world through Sr Faustina’s charism, will illumine the way for the men and women of the third millennium.”
Peace, the Holy Spirit, and Evangelization was also given to the incredulous Thomas because he finally believed. Notice that it was the Lord Himself who took Thomas’ hand to put it into the huge wound caused by a soldier’s lance that pierced right through the heart of Jesus to ensure He was dead before His body was taken down from the cross.
“Give me your hand; put it into my side”. Thomas’ hand could get into the huge wound, and physically reach and feel Jesus’ own merciful heart, now pumping and alive! He had to believe!
After Thomas’ confession of faith “My Lord and my God!”, the startling thing happened. The Lord on the second Sunday after He had risen from the dead, thought of you and I, spoke about you and I two thousand years away!
‘You (Thomas) believe because you can see me. Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.’
According to tradition, Thomas went as far as India to evangelize and died a martyr there. Would he have done all that if he himself did not think it was possible for his hearers to believe without seeing???
With so much of deadly blaming against our own self, others, and the increasing global blaming for the Covid-19, where are we? When will we ever learn and survive as a species? For ultimately, we must resolve the problem radically, at its roots. That is possible only by Divine Mercy and Forgiveness.
Remember the Lord also warned: “for those whose sins you retain, they are retained!” How frightful! If we retain our forgiveness, we will retain sins at the peril of our own destruction on earth!
If we are to live be lovingly involved with divine mercy, we must believe, receive the Power of God from the Risen Christ, the Holy Spirit, and be empowered to forgive our own sins and the sins even of those bitterly and self-righteously rightly or wrongly blaming others. No one can do that except by the power of God, the Holy Spirit.
This is DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY. JESUS, I TRUST IN YOU! ALLELUIA, ALLELUIA, ALLELUIA!!!
(Since we will not meet until Third Sunday of Easter, please notice that the weekday daily readings until Pentecost are MYSTAGOGY for the neophytes and all Christians on Baptism, the Eucharist, and Confirmation, in their life. It’s well to remember this each day).
Cover Image: The original image painted according to the apparitions of Saint Faustina by Eugeniusz Kazimirowski. Oil on canvas. Now permanently enshrined at the Divine Mercy Sanctuary (Vilnius).
Quote Image: The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Caravaggio, c. 1602