Homily (3) 2nd Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday) ABC: Fr. Michael U. UdoekpoReadings: Acts 2:42-47; Ps 118:2-4,13-15,22-24; 1 Pet 1:3-9 (A); Acts 4:32-35; 1 John 5:1-6 (B); Acts 5:12-16; Rev 1:9-11a, 12-13,17-19 (C) and John 20:19-31(ABC)
Christ: Conduit of Divine Mercy!
Today the Church celebrates “Divine Mercy Sunday” commemorating Jesus’ revelations to Saint Faustina on the Divine Mercy. Pope John Paul II granted this Feast to the Universal Church on the occasion of his raising Sr. Faustina, a young Polish woman to Sainthood on April 30, 2000 and was decreed to be celebrated on the 2nd Sunday of Easter.
It is a teaching Sunday that invites us to embrace Christ’s enthronement on the Cross, his Resurrection and his multiple appearances to his seemingly disillusioned and doubting disciples as nothing, but acts of love and divine mercy towards us. Christ went to the cross freely to save us! (Song- "all the way to Calvary... went for us..."). Peter in the Second reading, particularly of Year A recognizes this when he says:
“Blessed be the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Pet 1:3-9).
Christ’s disciples particularly those who lived through the events of Palm Sunday to Easter needed the power of Christ’s Peace to calm their fears and be strengthened in the supernatural gifts of faith and fortitude through the Holy Spirit., wherever they were hiding for fear of the "Jews."
I am sure we still recall the other day, in Luke Chapter 24: 13-35, at Emmaus, when Jesus walked besides Cleopas and his friend on their return from Jerusalem, clouded in sad conversation they did not recognized Jesus until the Risen Christ spent time breaking bread with them. Besides, walking with his disciples, or breaking bread with them, he ate baked fish with them (Lk 24:35-48) during other appearances. He also gave them encouraging instruction by the beach at the Sea of Tiberias (John 21:1-14)
In today’s Gospel, John 20:19-31 read in years ABC, the Risen Lord appears to the restless and frightened disciples with blessings of Peace (Shalom)! He breathed on them and commissions them on a preaching mission with the power to forgive sins, “whose sins you forgive are forgiven them and whose sins you retain are retained” (Jon 20:23).
On a day like this, Divine Mercy Sunday, I would think that Our Lord encourages us to be merciful to one another, in our homes, families and communities. The Lord expects us to continue to appreciate the gift of the sacrament of reconciliation in the Church. [ And when this celebration in done in a Seminary, a house of formation of future priest for our parishes and dioceses we cannot but continue to pray for our priests and would be priests to see themselves as ministers of Divine Mercy and agents of shalom. And this is confirm in last year’s ( 2011) documents from the Congregation for the Clergy, The Priest, Minister of Divine Mercy….p. 3 which says, ‘ the priest is a minister, that is to say that he is at the same time both a servant and a prudent dispenser of Divine Mercy…”
The Holy Father, Pope Benedict the XVI in his 2010 Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland, which is also applicable to every priests (and all of us) urges priests themselves (and us) who have wrong others, “not to be “despair of God’s Mercy,” that “Christ’s redeeming sacrifice has the power to forgive even the gravest of sins, and to bring forth good from even the most terrible evil”]. Divine Mercy is sufficient unto each of us, all the Disciples of Christ: mom, dad, children, clergy, priests, Seminarians, as it was for all men, and women we hear in Scriptures.
Besides encouraging us to be "masters of divine mercy", Christ invites us like Thomas to stop doubting; to be believers. Christ invites us today to touch his wounds (John 20:19-31); wounds that would heal Thomas’ wounds of disbelief and faithlessness; wounds that replaces lack of peace with Peace of Christ; wounds that replaces the spirit of darkness with God’s Spirit of Light. Christ’s wounds, a catalyst for testimony of the healing truth, courage, unlimited mercy and inexhaustible love of Christ. Christ’s wounds expels the power of injustice and heals the wounds of indiscriminate shootings in our communities. It is this wounds that Thomas touches in today’s Gospel. The wounds of love, unity; wounds that would empower communion, the sharing (konoinia) and the preaching of the early Christian Community.
This we are told in Acts of the Apostle (Year A): “All who believed were together… (as we are today in this church) they devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life (Konoinia), breaking of bread and praying together….” (Acts 2:42-47).
Moreover (Year B): “They were of one heart and mind and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common…they bore witness to the Resurrection of Christ…” (Acts 4:32-35).
Like Thomas, Mary Magdalene, Peter, Cleopas, and the Eleven Disciples, we all do have moments of doubt, uncertainties, confusions, disbelief, hopelessness, selfishness and frustrations. Conscious also of those moments we might have acted uncharitably or mercilessly towards our neighbors, we are invited today to deep our hands into those wounds of Christ! And be filled with faith, hope, love, and spirit of charity and sense of oneness by Christ, our wounded healer!
The Eucharist we shall soon move up to celebrates provides us a fitting opportunity to deep our fingers into these wounds of Christ. It reminds us of the goodness, the mercy of the Lord which demands our gratitude and reciprocity of obedience to him, and in how we treat one another. For whatever we do to the least of our brothers and sisters, so we do it unto the Lord. As we worship and receive Christ today, May we be strengthen with mercy, love (1 John 5:1-6), hope (1 Pet 1:3-9), faith and unity to always be able to say with Thomas “My Lord and My God.”
And may our families, streets, neighborhood, churches and workplaces continue to be true channels and conduits for the transmission of Divine Mercy, and propagation of faith in the Risen Christ!
Homily (alternate) Second Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy) ABC: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Dipping our Hands into the Wounds of Christ!
From Easter Sunday to Pentecost the Church celebrates those fifty days that the Risen Jesus goes around by his appearances strengthening the faith of his “seemingly” disillusioned disciples over the events of the victory of the Cross; that supernatural event beyond the powers of Anna, Caiaphas, the Sanhedrin and Pilate other opponents of Jesus. Even it took a while, for friends of Christ, his mother, Mary Magdalene, his disciples, the apostles, especially Thomas, being human like any of us to come to terms with the mystery of the Resurrection (John 20:24-29). He needed to deep his hands into the wounds of our Savior wounds; the wounds of peace and assurances!
They needed the power of Christ’s Peace (love, reassurance, well-being, okeyness) to calm their fears and be strengthened in the supernatural gifts of faith and fortitude by the Holy Spirit, wherever they were hiding for fear of persecution. You would recall that in Luke’s Gospel 24: 13-35, at Emmaus, when Jesus walked besides Cleopas and his friend on their return from Jerusalem, clouded in sad conversation they did not recognized Jesus until the Risen Christ spent time breaking bread with them. Besides, walking with his disciples, or breaking bread with them in other appearances, he ate baked fish with them (in Lk 24:35-48). He also gave them encouraging instruction by the beach at the Sea of Tiberias (in John 21:1-14).
In today’s Gospel, John 20:19-31, the Risen Lord invites the Doubting Thomas to touch his wounds. These wounds would heal Thomas’ wounds of doubts, disbelief and faithlessness; wounds that replaces lack of peace with Peace of Christ; wounds that replaces the spirit of darkness with God’s Spirit of Light. Thomas touches wounds of testimony to the healing truth, courage, unlimited mercy and inexhaustible love of Christ. He touches wounds of love, unity; wounds that would empower communion and the sharing and the preaching of the early Christian Community.
We are told in Acts of the Apostle (Year A): “All who believed were together… (as we are today in this church) they devoted themselves to teaching of the apostles and to the communal life (Konoinia), breaking of bread and praying together….” (Acts 2:42-47).
Moreover (Year B): “They were of one heart and mind and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. With great power the Apostles bore witness to the Resurrection of Christ…” (Acts 4:32-35).
Our world and society today is broken or wounded with war and threats of war. We are wounded by nuclear threats, and religious extremism (ISIS/Bokoharam, etc). We are also wounded daily by all forms violence and abuse guns and shootings, in our schools, homes, streets and public places! We are wounded with rifts in our families, poverty and lack of consideration for the lowly, especially by the upper class of political elites.
Like Thomas, Mary Magdalene, Peter, Cleopas, and the Eleven Disciples we all do have moments of doubt, uncertainties, confusions, disbelief, hopelessness and frustrations. All these wounds can only be healed and soothed by our embrace of the meaning of the wounds of Christ!
The Eucharist we celebrate today provides us a fitting opportunity to dip our fingers into the wounds of Christ and be grateful for what he has done for us, during the Holy Week and throughout this Easter! And may we continue to be a merciful and loving (1 John 5:1-6). And with hope (1 Pet 1:3-9), faith and spirit of unity be able to always say with doubting Thomas, “My Lord and My God”!