Theme: PROCLAIM THE GOOD NEWS AND BUILD CHRISTIAN COMMUNITIES
- Acts 2:42-47;
- Psalm 117 (118): 2-4. 13-15. 22-24. R/ v. 1;
- 1 Peter 1:3-9
- John 20:19-31
Today is the Second Sunday of Easter. Today we also celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday. And today is also the Octave Day of Easter, that is, the eighth day of Easter. We celebrate Easter in eight days because Easter is the biggest feast of the Church!
The gospel today tells us that on the day of his resurrection the Lord appeared to his disciples and said to them: peace be with you. And he showed them his hands and his side and the disciples were filled with joy. Again, he said: 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, for those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven, for those whose sins you retain they are retained.
That is, proclaim the good news of the resurrection, 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. (NJBC) The Council of Trent (16th century) teaches that this gospel also tells us about the sacrament of penance, that is, “confession”. The sacrament of penance/reconciliation forgives post-baptismal sins, that is, sins committed after baptism. God is indeed merciful!
The gospel today also tells us that when the Lord appeared to his disciples, Thomas was not with them and when they told Thomas that they had seen the Lord, Thomas refused to believe. Eight days later, that is, on the Octave Day of Easter, 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: put your finger here, here are my hands, give me your hand, put your hand into my side, doubt no longer and believe. And Thomas said: My Lord and my God. And Jesus said: 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 the risen Lord, but believe on the witnesses of the apostles, especially Thomas! (NJB)
The first reading tells us about the first Christian community, the first BEC (Basic Ecclesial Community). The first Christian community has four chief characteristics:
(1) The teaching of the apostles.
(2) The brotherhood.
(3) The breaking of bread.
(4) The prayers. (Ac 2:42)
Today our Basic Ecclesial Communities, BECs also have these four characteristics:
(1) Word of God (teaching of the apostles).
(2) Sharing our possessions with our brothers (the brotherhood).
(3) Eucharist (breaking of bread).
It is very difficult to share our resources with our brothers, because we worship God and money, but with the word of God, the Eucharist, and prayers, the Holy Spirit will help us share our belongings with our brothers and sisters!
The Holy Spirit will help us build communities of love and unity, so that our Church will become a community of communities of love and unity and a sign and sacrament of salvation for the whole world!
The responsorial psalm is a psalm of thanksgiving for deliverance from enemies. (HCSB) 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)
The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The response and the first stanza tell us to give thanks to God. The second stanza tells us to give thanks to God for delivering us from enemies. And the third stanza tells us to give thanks to God for the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ, the corner stone rejected by the builders, for delivering us from our enemies!
The second reading tells us to bless God the Father who in his “great mercy” has given us a new birth as sons and daughters of God by the resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ. We are sons and daughters of God in the sacrament of baptism solely because of the “great mercy” of God.
Sometime ago an authority of another religion said in the newspaper (“Daily Express”) that we are not the sons and daughters of God, we are not the children of God, but we are only the creatures of God and as creatures of God we must follow God’s laws!
But we Christians believe that God is not only Creator and law, but God is also and especially Savior, love, and Father! We Christians believe that we are the children of God and we are above the law, in the sense that we love, we do more than the law requires of us! The law never says that we must forgive, but we forgive, we are above the law, we love. Love is the fulfillment of the law, love is the only law, the only law is love, love is the greatest commandment of the law (Mt 22:36-40), love and do what you will say St. Augustine!
Today our world needs more than a Creator God and a God of law, today our world needs a Savior God, a loving God and a Father God. Today our world needs more than a God of law, justice and punishment; today our world needs a God of love, mercy and forgiveness! Our late Pope John Paul II said that there can be no peace without justice and there can be no justice without forgiveness.
It was our Pope John Paul II who introduced “Divine Mercy Sunday” into the liturgy and that is why today we celebrate “Divine Mercy Sunday”! The picture of “Divine Mercy” shows two rays of light from the sacred heart of Jesus, one red and one white. The red ray symbolizes the blood of Jesus sacrificed on the cross, and the white ray symbolizes the water of the Holy Spirit of God’s love and mercy! When the side of Christ was pierced on the cross, blood and water came out. (Jn 19:34; NJB) The Fathers of the Church sees the red blood as a symbol of the Eucharist and the white water as a symbol of baptism. Indeed, today the Risen Lord continues to pour out upon us his Holy Spirit of love and mercy in the sacraments of baptism and Eucharist!
Today in the Eucharist we celebrate Easter, in fact every Sunday is a small celebration of Easter. We celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and the risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will help us proclaim the good news of the resurrection so that all may believe and be baptized and have their sins forgiven. The Holy Spirit will help us build small Christian communities of love and unity, so that our Church may be a community of communities of love and unity and a sign and sacrament of salvation for the whole world! And the Holy Spirit will help us to be merciful as our heavenly Father is merciful! (Lk 6:36; CSB) Again, a happy Easter to all of you! Amen!