Apr 2, 2008

Homily for 2nd Sunday of Easter (DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY) - Given at Cronulla, March 30, 2008.

Readings: Acts 2: 42-47; I peter 1: 3-9; John 20: 19-31



Hardwired within every human being is an urge to find inner peace. Some people look for peace through political activism, others try to find peace through success, fame, family, fortune, or through helping others. But ultimately, lasting peace can only be found in the Risen Lord. In today’s Gospel the Risen Lord stood among the disciples, he showed them that he was alive and he offered them his peace.

In recent times the Second Sunday of Easter has become known as the Sunday of Divine Mercy. Many people have tended to link this feast explicitly with Devotion to the Divine Mercy Chaplet, but Divine Mercy Sunday is about far more than a devotional prayer or a private revelation of God.

Accepting and understanding the need for God’s Mercy is essential for faith, for relationship with God, and for personal and communal peace. When Christ appeared to St Faustina in Poland in the 1940s, the Risen Lord appeared in the midst of World War II and the devastating holocaust which killed millions of people. After the war many Nazi officers confessed that somehow they had lost all sense of mercy, love and sympathy towards those who didn’t agree with them. Conversely, in order for those who were persecuted by the Nazis to find inner peace with God, they needed first to forgive the Nazis for their wrongdoings.

Forgiving someone is difficult, but it is especially difficult when it involves great acts of evil. The act of forgiving our enemies and those who have hurt us greatly is not normal for humans – forgiveness and mercy is a godly act. Faith in God and resurrection requires us to accept that each of us has sinned, that each of us has done terrible things to God and to those around us, and that each of us need the Mercy of God.

“The first man (Adam) was made of the dust of the earth; the second man (Jesus) is from heaven. Just as we have worn the likeness of the man made of dust, so we shall wear the likeness of the heavenly man.” I Cor 15:47,49.


After Christ appeared to St Faustina, she had an icon painted depicting how she experienced Jesus. It shows white and red rays of light coming from the heart of Our Lord. The white rays represent the sacraments of Baptism and Penance, sacraments in which our sins are washed away.  The red rays represent the Eucharist. In the Eucharist we taste and receive the death and Resurrection of Jesus within us.  These three sacraments make us both givers and recipients of Divine Mercy.  At the canonization of St. Faustina, Pope John Paul II said: “The Cross, even after the Resurrection of the Son of God, speaks and never ceases to speak of God the Father, who is absolutely faithful to His eternal love for man... Believing in this love means believing in mercy.”


The second part of today’s gospel presents the fearless apostle St. Thomas, in his uncompromising honesty, demanding a personal vision of and physical contact with the risen Jesus as a condition for his belief in Jesus’ resurrection.  Thomas typifies the doubts, skepticism, and hesitation that plagued all the early witnesses to the risen Jesus, and which at times can plague all of us.  Thomas was able to overcome his doubts by seeing the risen Jesus, but modern Christians, who are no longer able to "see" Jesus with their eyes, must believe what they hear. Belief without all the evidence involves a risk, but the risk of getting into heaven is worth taking.


The great profession of faith, “My Lord and my God” in today’s gospel is very significant because it is the foundation of our Christian faith.  Our faith is based on the divinity of Jesus as proved by his miracles, especially by the supreme miracle of his resurrection from the dead. “My Lord and my God” is significant because it culminated in Thomas’ self surrender to Jesus, his heroic missionary expedition to India in A.D. 52 and his fearless preaching and powerful testimony by life, which led him to his martyrdom in A.D. 72. It was faith in God and obedience to his missionary command that prompted St. Thomas to travel to India to preach the gospel and eventually face martyrdom. 

The Fathers of the Church prescribe the following means to grow in the living and dynamic faith of St. Thomas the Apostle:

1. Know Jesus personally and intimately by the daily and meditative reading of the Bible. 

2. Strengthen your faith by the power of the Holy Spirit through personal and community prayer.

3. Share in the divine life of Jesus by often frequenting the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist.

Mother Teresa presents it this way: “If we pray, we will believe; if we believe, we will love; if we love, we will serve. Only then can we put our love of God into action.” 


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