The Second Sunday of Easter (or Divine Mercy Sunday)
In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
"BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO HAVE NOT SEEN AND HAVE BELIEVED." (Luke: 20:31)
Saint Pope John Paul II directed that Divine MercySunday
shall be celebrated on the Octave, the Second Sunday
of Easter. Especially in this Year of Mercy, we take time to celebrate God's unbounded love in sacrificing his only begotten son for the sake of our sins.
Our Gospel reading this Sunday (John 20:19-31) has two distinct messages. One is the institution of the Sacrament of Reconciliation through the priesthood. Jesus appears to the Apostles and gives them the authority to forgive sins. The other message is a call to faith, which by its very nature is a belief in something we have not yet seen. It is the story of Thomas, the doubter, who demands to touch the wounds of Jesus before he will believe that he is risen.
"On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, 'Peace be with you.' When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. 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.' And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.' Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to 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 into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.'
"Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, 'Peace be with you.' Then he said to Thomas, 'Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.' Thomas answered and said to him, 'My Lord and my God!' Jesus said to him, 'Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.'"
Our first reading is taken from the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 5:12-16), which is the story of the formation and spread of the early Church. In today's passage, we hear of miracles and healings performed by the Apostles in Jesus' name and how many came to believe in the Lord.
"Many signs and wonders were done among the people at the hands of the apostles. They were all together in Solomon's portico. None of the others dared to join them, but the people esteemed them. Yet more than ever, believers in the Lord, great numbers of men and women, were added to them. Thus they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and mats so that when Peter came by, at least his shadow might fall on one or another of them. A large number of people from the towns in the vicinity of Jerusalem also gathered, bringing the sick and those disturbed by unclean spirits, and they were all cured."
Our Epistle reading is from the Book of Revelations (Rev 1:9-13, 17-19). It is written in highly symbolic language of the end times of final glory. John writes from his exile on the Island of Patmos in an effort to reassure those being persecuted for their faith that Jesus will triumph over all evil.
"I, John, your brother, who share with you the distress, the kingdom, and the endurance we have in Jesus, found myself on the island called Patmos because I proclaimed God's word and gave testimony to Jesus. I was caught up in spirit on the Lord's day and heard behind me a voice as loud as a trumpet, which said, 'Write on a scroll what you see.' Then I turned to see whose voice it was that spoke to me, and when I turned, I saw seven gold lampstands and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, wearing an ankle-length robe, with a gold sash around his chest.
"When I caught sight of him, I fell down at his feet as though dead. He touched me with his right hand and said, 'Do not be afraid. I am the first and the last, the one who lives. Once I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever. I hold the keys to death and the netherworld. Write down, therefore, what you have seen, and what is happening, and what will happen afterwards.'"
During this fifty day season of Easter until Pentecost, we get to hear the continuing saga of the development of the early church - the triumphs and the persecutions and we will hear of Jesus' appearances to his disciples after his resurrection and will hear again some of his final words to his disciples just before his passion and death. The Church gives us this time to reflect and pray on "What just happened" in Christ's painful death and glorious resurrection. May we take the opportunity.
- Click Here read more about Divine Mercy Sunday
- Click Here to read, reflect and pray on the Easter Sunday readings for April 3, 2016