Theme: PROCLAIM THE GOOD NEWS SO THAT THOSE WHO BELIEVE AND ARE BAPTISED WILL HAVE THEIR SINS FORGIVEN
- Acts 4:32-35;
- Psalm 117 (118):2-4. 15-18. 22-24. R/ v. 1;
- 1 John 5:1-6
- John 20:19-31
A happy and blessed Easter to all of you! Today is the second Sunday of Easter, Liturgical Year B. Today is also the Octave Day of Easter, that is, the eighth day of Easter. Easter is such a big feast that we celebrate it as a solemnity for eight days! In the past eight days, including today, we use the Preface of Easter Sunday, we have “alleluia, alleluia” at the dismissal, we say the Gloria, etc. The Octave of Easter ends today, inclusive, but the Easter season continues to Pentecost Sunday! It is a season of fifty days! And the big Easter candle will remain in the sanctuary for fifty days!
The gospel today tells us that on the day of his resurrection, that is, Sunday, the Lord appeared to his disciples and said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, that is, shalom, that is, ‘salvation’. A peace that the world cannot give! (Jn 14:27). And he showed them his hands and his side. And the disciples were filled with joy! Easter joy! A joy that the world cannot take away! (Jn 16:22)
Again, the Lord said to his disciples, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.’ After saying this he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit, those whose sins you forgive they are forgiven; those whose sins you retain, they are retained.’ That is, proclaim the good news, so that those who believe and are baptized will have their sins forgiven, but those who do not believe and are not baptized will not have their sins forgiven!
The Catholic Church in the Council of Trent in the 16th century taught that this passage does not only tell us about the sacrament of Baptism, but also about the sacrament of Reconciliation, that is, the sacrament of Penance or “Confession”!
The gospel also tells us that when the Lord appeared to his disciples, Thomas was not with them. And when the other disciples told Thomas that they had seen the Lord, Thomas refused to believe and said, ‘unless I see the holes the nails have made in his hands and unless I put my finger into the holes the nails have made, and unless I put my hand into his side, I will not believe’.
Eight days later, the Lord appeared to his disciples again, and this time, Thomas was with them. Again, the Lord said, ‘Peace be with you’. And the Lord said to Thomas, ‘Here are my hands, put your finger here, put your hand into my side, doubt no longer but believe’. Thomas replied, ‘My Lord and my God’. Thomas the doubter made “the highest confession of faith in all the Gospels”! (R. Brown) Not only my Lord, but also my God and not only my God, but also my Lord!
And Jesus said to Thomas, ‘You believe because you have seen me, blessed are those who have not seen me and yet believe.’ That is, blessed are those who have not seen me, but believe on the testimony and witness of the apostles, especially Thomas!
The first reading from the Acts of the Apostles tells us that after Baptism the first Christians became a community of love and unity. They were united in heart and soul and shared their material belongings with one another, especially with the poor and the needy. And they continued to proclaim the good news so that those who believe and are baptized will have their sins forgiven!
After Baptism, our newly Baptized brothers and sisters belong to the community of the Church, but it would be very good if they also belong to a BEC (Basic Ecclesial Community), a neighborhood group, to continue to share and pray the word of God and proclaim the good news so that others may also believe and be Baptized and have their sins forgiven!
The responsorial psalm tells us that the resurrection of Jesus Christ and our resurrection with him in baptism are because of the love of God! Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:
“Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.” (Ps 117 (118):1; SM)
And thus the first stanza of the responsorial psalm:
“Let the sons of Israel say: ‘His love has no end.’ Let the sons of Aaron say: ‘His love has no end.’ Let those who fear the Lord say: ‘His love has no end.’”
The second stanza tells us that the Lord saves us from sin and death! What proves that God loves us is that he saved us from sin and death! And most importantly, the third stanza tells us that when we sinned, God loved us even more! He sent his Son Jesus Christ to save us, but when we rejected him on the cross he loved us even more, he rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit dwells among us and within us, nearer to us than we are to ourselves and loving us more than we love ourselves. And the Holy Spirit will continue to love us until we love God, we love our neighbor and we love ourselves. Only then will come the end of the world, the second coming of Jesus Christ, the Parousia! The end, not of the physical world, but the end of the evil world! Thus the third stanza:
“The stone which the builders rejected has become the corner stone. This is the work of the Lord, a marvel in our eyes.” (Ps 117 (118):22-23; Mt 21:42)
Thus the second reading tells us that Jesus Christ came with water and blood, not only with water, but with water and blood. Blood refers to Jesus Christ’s death on the cross from which he poured out his Holy Spirit! And water refers to the waters of the Holy Spirit, the waters of Baptism! (NJB; Jn 19:34r) Thus we read in the second reading:
“Jesus Christ who came by water and blood, not with water only, but with water and blood; with the Spirit as another witness – since the Spirit is the truth.” (1 Jn 5:6; SM)
Truth for John includes faith and love! (New Jerusalem Bible (NJB); 1 Jn 3:19i) Thus the Baptized Christian puts his faith in God and loves his neighbor!
Today in the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and we eat his Risen Body and drink his Blood and the Risen Lord will give us his Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will help us proclaim the good news, so that those who believe and are baptized will have their sins forgiven! A happy and blessed Easter to all of you! Amen!
Parish Priest of St Mary, Tawau, Sabah East Malaysia.