16 April 2023 – 2nd Sunday of Easter (A) – Divine Mercy Sunday

16 April 2023 – 2nd Sunday of Easter (A) – Divine Mercy Sunday

1st Reading: Acts 2:42-47

As a sign of their faith the early Christians shared their possessions

They devoted themselves to the apostles” teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

Responsorial: Psalm 117: 2-4, 13-15, 22-24

R./: Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love is everlasting

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.’ (R./)

I was thrust, thrust down
and falling but the Lord was my helper.
The Lord is my strength and my song;
he was my saviour.
There are shouts of joy and victory
in the tents of the just. (R./)

The stone which the builders rejected
has become the corner stone.
This is the work of the Lord,
a marvel in our eyes.
This day was made by the Lord;
we rejoice and are glad. (R./)

2nd Reading: 1 Peter 1:3-9

Christians respond to his resurrection with hope, praise and joy

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith-being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire-may be found to result in praise and glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Gospel: John 20:19-31

The presence of the risen Jesus dispels fear and brings peace to his friends

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.


Helped by a doubting apostle

The expression “Doubting Thomas” comes from this remarkable Easter story. The apostle Thomas, one of Jesus’s inner circle, was slow to believe in the resurrection. He demanded concrete evidence before he could believe that the risen Jesus had appeared to his fellow apostles. His story offers some comfort to those of us who are always nagged by doubts. With the memory of our Lord’s crucifixion fresh in their hearts, the nervous disciples had locked the doors of their meeting room.

They had locked themselves for fear of Jewish reprisals. They were afraid that what was done to Jesus could be done to them. The turning point came when Jesus appeared among them and breathed the Holy Spirit into them, filling them with new purpose. “As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.” In the power of the Spirit they left their self-imposed prison, to go out and spread the message of Jesus. In today’s reading from Acts St Luke shows them witnessing to the resurrection both in word and by the quality of their living.

Some people who cannot believe profess to envy those who do. They would like to experience the certainty of believers and share the faith of their parents. And indeed, most ordinary mortals have moments of doubt during our spiritual journey. Thomas’s recovery from his doubts offers a valuable insight into God’s mercy and kindness.

Are we sometimes like those disciples, indecisive, inactive, unwilling to promote the faith. The “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” have dented our confidence. Are we tempted to abandon our faith journey, unable to see a way forward? Our past failures make us hesitant to try again. Today’s gospel offers a solution. The Lord himself has power to revive our courage and our faith. No locked doors, nor even locked hearts, can keep him out.

At first, Thomas refused to believe that the others had seen him. He demanded definite and demonstrable, tangible proof. Jesus gave him the proof he needed. “Put your finger here,” he said, “and feel my wounds.” He forgives our fears and doubts too, and offers us a fresh start. We need to say in our turn, “My Lord and my God.

Today we meet with the risen Christ, just as St Thomas did. Sharing in the Eucharist is our statement of loyalty, our act of personal and shared faith. In praying the Eucharist together we help each other’s faith and strengthen our Christian community. It was because the members of the early Church in Jerusalem met in public for prayer and seemed such a joyful little community, that so many others came to believe and the church grew steadily in those early, Spirit-filled days.

No-one else can do our believing for us. Eventually Thomas came to believe in the resurrection, when he saw the risen Jesus with his own eyes. The story ends with a message for all who have received the gift of faith: ‘Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.’ Our faith is a gift from God. But it is not an inert gift that can we lock away like some precious heirloom. It is a living gift that needs nurturing, to grow and mature. Like other life-forms, faith can wither from neglect. We need to pray about it, think about it, and express it in actions arising from love. This does not mean that we will never have any doubts. But if like Thomas we continue seeking, we too will come into the presence of Jesus and say “My Lord and my God!”


One Comment

  1. Thara Benedicta says:

    Key Message:
    Let us remember His mercy, He quickly forgets our sins.

    This is a story I heard a long time ago. A father, his son and his son’s friend went fishing one day. The father and his son were Christians and also they had a close walk with our Lord Jesus. The son’s friend had not yet come to believe in Jesus. When they were far from the shore, a huge storm arose. The son and his friend were thrown out of the boat. But there was only one life jacket. So the father could save only one. He knew even if his only son died, he would still be able to reach Heaven, but he was not sure about his son’s friend. So saying “I love you son”, he threw the life jacket on his son’s friend and saved him. The father sacrificed the life of his only son for the sake of his son’s friend.
    Similarly our loving Father lovingly chose to sacrifice the life of His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life.

    Nowadays, people tend to suffer more from guilt than from poverty or sickness or any other type of longing. Though we pray for whatever we are longing for, we spend more time feeling guilty than feeling the longing. We are not even aware that by prayer our guilt can be washed away and we can live a guilt-free life. The burden of guilt is more complicated than the burden of sin. This is because when we ask for forgiveness, our Lord Jesus immediately washes our sins away. But we are not able to believe it. So the burden of guilt stays within us. We should believe that we are not guilty any more. Why did our God say, “I have thrown all your sins behind my back”? It is because our Lord does not want us to feel guilt anymore.

    When our Lord Jesus Christ died so that we can live an enjoyable life on earth too, we must not live unhappy because of our guilt. Are we determined to sin from the time we get up from bed? No. But once we sin we need repentance. It is only a repentant heart our Saviour needs. Is there any person who came with a repentant heart but still was not forgiven by our sweet Jesus? No. He lifted up His head, called Zacchaeus and said “Today I will stay in your house”. Our Lord Jesus likes to see us enjoy our salvation and lead a blissful life, not all the time feeling guilty, heavy, bored and leading a sad life.

    We expect mercy from God, at the same time we refuse to show the same mercy to others. Our Lord Jesus explains this through the parable of the unmerciful servant. So when we pray for forgiveness we should be able to forgive others too. We cannot keep meditating on all the hurts caused by others. Then it deepens the hurt inside our heart and makes it impossible to forgive. Now let us consider, after a hundred years when we are happily settled in Heaven, will we suffer for this hurt? No, we will be happily chatting with the same person in Heaven…
    Let us forget all our hurts and be as our Jesus who forgave all those who crucified Him on the cross instantaneously.

    God gives us His mercy, and He expects His mercy to flow through us. Even in our Lord’s prayer, He included “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us”. Let us close our eyes and bring to our mind all those whom we have not forgiven. Let us forgive them with our whole heart.

    One major concept God teaches us through the good thief and bad thief is, though our Lord Jesus was there near to both the thieves, only one gained the mercy of God. Because only one repented for His sinful life and pleaded for forgiveness. Though both were suffering, one was stiff-necked and the other was repentant. Repentance attracts the mercy of God.
    Mercy is also granted immediately. Our Lord Jesus does not wait for a more opportunistic time to grant mercy. It is granted whenever and wherever. The first word our Lord Jesus said is “Today, …” And He replied immediately after the good thief asked for forgiveness. He broke the silence which He was maintaining while the bad thief was mocking Him.
    The good thief scolded the bad thief for making fun of our Lord Jesus. God our Father notices it. When all the leaders, the people including the bad thief are mocking our Lord Jesus, the good thief was fighting for Jesus. So when the good thief entered Heaven on the first Good Friday, God our loving Father would have patted the good thief and said “Good job, you took care of my son while He was hanging on the cross”.

    God our Father creates only masterpieces, He does not make any mistakes. Since we all are created by God our Almighty Father, we are all masterpieces of God. When God created His masterpiece, He will not like His masterpiece to feel guilty all the time. The mercy of our Lord Jesus is beyond words. We cannot explain it, but we can experience it just like Peter. Though Peter denied our Lord Jesus, He still had Peter to lead His church. Another wonderful example is Aaron. When Moses stayed in the mountain for 40 days and nights with God, Aaron was in charge of the Israelites. Moses carried Israelites for 40 years but Aaron couldn’t carry them for 40 days too. When Moses came down from the mountain, he saw all the Israelites worshipping a calf gold statue. But later, Aaron was the one who was anointed to go into the Holy of Holies and worship God. Our Lord has the habit of forgetting sins… So He is sure to forget our sins also. When we remember His sorrowful passion, He will forget our sins.

    Is the mercy of our Lord Jesus only for forgiving our sins? No, it is for meeting our needs also. In the New Testament, we read how our Lord Jesus cured a sick person saying “Your sins are forgiven. Take your bed and walk”. If our sins are the only cause of our sickness, then when our sins are washed away, our sickness also will fly away. But there are scenarios too. Like Little Thérèse of the Child Jesus, saints also become sick to carry the cross of our Lord Jesus.

    One day a mother of a teenage daughter was testifying, “My daughter was disobedient, raising her voice for simple things, she was very short-tempered. I was not able to calm her down. When I was seeking our Lord’s help, I could hear the silent voice telling, say a “Divine Mercy Chaplet” everyday for her. When I started doing that, I could see a marvellous change in my daughter’s behaviour. What I could not do, my Jesus did it!!”
    When the mother lifted her hands to Jesus, Jesus did it!!

    When we are conscious of our sin, immediately we should bring to our mind the mercy of God. If we do not trust in our Lord’s mercy, then all the sufferings that Jesus underwent on the cross becomes useless for us. This is how it happened for the bad thief. Jesus suffered for him too, but he did not make any use of it. But the good thief believed, repented and went to Heaven. When we are able to believe that our Lord Jesus has forgiven the good thief, why can’t we believe that the mercy of our Lord will forgive our sins too?

    Our God longingly waits for us with a new batch of mercy every morning. Let us cling to Him!!

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