Theme: GO AND ANNOUNCE THE GOSPEL OF THE LORD’S RESURRECTION SO THAT THOSE WHO BELIEVE AND ARE BAPTISED WILL HAVE THEIR SINS FORGIVEN
- Acts 2:42-47;
- Psalm 117:2-4. 13-15. 22-24. R/ v. 1;
- 1 Peter 1:3-9
- John 20:19-31
1. A happy and blessed Easter to all of you! Today we celebrate the Octave Day of Easter, that is, the eighth day of Easter! Easter is such a big feast that we do not celebrate it in one day, but we celebrate it in eight days! That is why all the Masses of the past week were celebrated as solemnities! And that is why we could eat meat last Friday!
The gospel today tells us that on the day of his resurrection the Lord appeared to his disciples and said, ‘Peace be with you’, that is, Peace, Shalom, Salvation! And he showed them his hands and his side! And the disciples were filled with joy, that is, the joy of the resurrection, the joy of salvation, the joy of life!
Again, he said to them, ‘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, ‘Go and announce the gospel of the Lord’s resurrection, 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’! This is the Pentecost of John’s gospel!
But more than that, the gospel does not only tell us about the sacrament of baptism, but the gospel also tells us about the sacrament of penance or reconciliation! After baptism we still commit sins, but the Lord is merciful, he continues to forgive our sins in the sacrament of penance! That is why today we also celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday!
The second part of the gospel tells us that when the Lord appeared to the disciples, Thomas was not with them and when they told him that they have seen the Lord he refused to believe. He refused to believe until he has seen the lord and until he has put his finger into the holes that the nails have made in his hands and until he has put his hand into his side.
Eight days later the Lord appeared to the disciples again and this time Thomas was with them. Again, the Lord said, ‘Peace be with you’. Peace, Shalom, Salvation! And the Lord invited Thomas to put his finger into the holes of his hands and to put his hand into his side and to doubt no longer but believe!
Thomas immediately professed his faith in the Lord, ‘My Lord and my God’! And Jesus said to him, ‘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 witness and testimony of the apostles, particularly Thomas! (Jn 17:20-23; Ac 1:8;NJB)
2. The first reading tells us about the four chief characteristics of the first Christian community! (CSB; Fuller) (i) They were faithful to the teachings of the apostles. The apostles taught them the Old Testament scriptures in the light of the Incarnation! (NJB) (ii) They shared their spiritual gifts as well as their material possessions! (iii) They celebrated the Eucharist! (iv) They prayed!
The first reading tells us about the first BEC (Basic Ecclesial Community)! That is why our BECs must also have the above characteristics, that is, the scriptures, sharing of spiritual and material gifts, Eucharist, and prayer! Thus we read in the first reading:
“The whole community remained faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers.” (Ac 2:42; Sunday Missal)
3. The second reading tells us about the sacrament of baptism! (CSB; Fuller) The second reading tells us that God in his mercy has given us a new birth/life in the sacrament of baptism through the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ! And this new life will only be complete, full and perfect at the second coming of Jesus Christ!
In the meantime we live in faith and love even and especially in the face of sufferings and persecutions so that our faith and love will grow until the second coming of Jesus Christ when our salvation and life will be complete, full and perfect!
4. The responsorial psalm is the same as that of Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday! The responsorial psalm is a hymn of thanksgiving for salvation in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ! Thus the response:
“Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.” or “Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!” (Ps 117:1; Sunday Missal (SM))
The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza tells us to praise and thank God for his infinite love! The second stanza tells us that the Lord is our Savior! And the third stanza tells us about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ! Thus we read in the third stanza:
“The stone which the builders rejected has become the corner stone.” (Ps 117:22; SM)
The New Testament sees this verse as referring to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ! (Mt 21:42; Ac 4:11; CSB)
And it is all God’s work! Thus again we read in the third stanza:
“This is the work of the Lord, a marvel in our eyes.” (Ps 117:23; SM)
That is why we give praise and thanks to God in the response:
“Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.” or “Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!”
5. Today we also celebrate “Divine Mercy Sunday”! That is why we have the picture of “Divine Mercy”! In the picture we see a red ray and a white ray of light emitting from the heart of Jesus! The red ray symbolizes the blood sacrificed on the cross and the white ray symbolizes the Holy Spirit that comes from Christ’s death and resurrection! (Jn 19:34; NJB) The red and white rays also symbolize the two most important sacraments of the Church, that is, Baptism (white) and Eucharist (red)! That is why it is most important that after baptism we have to come to Mass every Sunday to continue to receive the “divine mercy”! Today we also thank God for his divine mercy in the canonization of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II! Again, a happy and blessed Easter to all of you! Amen!
Parish Priest of St Mary, Tawau, Sabah East Malaysia.