Theme: I BELIEVE IN JESUS CHRIST WHO ROSE AGAIN FROM THE DEAD
- Acts 5:12-16;
- Psalm 117:2-4. 22-27. R/ v. 1;
- Apocalypse 1:9-13. 17-19
- John 20:19-31
Today is the Second Sunday of Easter. Today is also the Octave Day of Easter, that is, the eighth day of Easter. Easter is the biggest feast in the Church! That is why we celebrate it in eight days! Today is also Divine Mercy Sunday!
The gospel today is the same for Years A, B and C. The gospel today tells us that on the day of his resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples and said, ‘Peace be with you’. Peace, Shalom, 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! A joy that the world cannot take away! (Jn 16:22)
Again, he said, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I am sending you’. After 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’.
This is the Pentecost Day of Saint John’s gospel! Unlike Saint Luke who wrote the Acts of the Apostles, there is no fifty days between Jesus’ Resurrection and Pentecost Day. According to the gospel of Saint John the Holy Spirit was given on the very day of the Resurrection!
‘Those whose sins you forgive they are forgiven and those whose sins you retain they are retained’. That is, proclaim the good news, those who believe and are baptized will have their sins forgiven in Jesus’ name; but those who do not believe and are not baptized will not have their sins forgiven in Jesus’ name! (Ac 10:43)
The Council of Trent (16th Century) teaches that this gospel passage does not only tell us about the Sacrament of Baptism, but it also tells us about the Sacrament of Penance/Reconciliation/Confession! God is infinitely merciful. After forgiving all our sins in Baptism, he continues to forgive all our sins in the Sacrament of Penance/Reconciliation/Confession! Divine Mercy!
The second part of the gospel tells us that when Jesus appeared to the disciples, Thomas was not with them. And when the disciples told Thomas that they had seen the Lord, Thomas refused to believe and said, ‘Unless I see the holes that the nails have made in his hands and put my finger into the holes, and put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe’.
Eight days later, Jesus appeared to his disciples again. And this time Thomas was with them. Again, he said, ‘Peace be with you’. And he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here, here are my hands, give me your hand, put it into my side, doubt no longer but believe’. Thomas said, ‘My Lord, and my God!’ Doubting Thomas made the “highest confession of faith in all the Gospels”. (Raymond E. Brown)
Jesus then said to Thomas, ‘you believe because you have seen me, blessed are those who have not seen me, yet believe’. That is, blessed are those who have not seen me, yet believe on the testimony and witness of the apostles, particularly Thomas! (Jn 17:20; Acts 1:8)
Today we also celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday! In the picture we see Jesus and we see rays of red and blue white light emitting from the heart of Jesus! To know the meaning of the picture we have to read the gospel of John:
“One of the soldiers pierced his side with a lance; and immediately there came out blood and water”. (Jn 19:34; NJB)
The red ray symbolizes the blood of sacrifice of the cross and the blue white ray symbolizes the water of the Holy Spirit!
The red and blue white rays also symbolize the two most important sacraments of the Church, that is, the Eucharist and Baptism, respectively. The Eucharist is the Sacrament of Sacraments! In the Eucharist we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world! And Baptism is the first Sacrament that we receive for our Salvation!
It is most important that those who received the Sacrament of Baptism continue to come to Mass every Sunday. We receive new life in Baptism, but that new life has to grow until we reach the eternal life of heaven! In the Sunday Mass, we have the word of God, and the body and blood of Christ. The word of God is spirit and life. (Jn 6:63) The body and blood of Christ are spiritual food and drink that give us eternal life. (Jn 6:54)
Again, a happy Easter to all of you! Amen!
Parish Priest of St Mary, Tawau, Sabah East Malaysia.