2nd Sunday of Easter, Year – A – 17
Acts.2:42-47; 1Pet.1:3-9; Jn.20:19-31
Today is the second Sunday of Easter. It is and also, the Divine Mercy Sunday. On this special Sunday, the Church continues to relish in the joy the risen Christ. We are called to celebrate the risen Christ the first fruit of all those who have fallen asleep, the hope of Christians, and the Cause of Our Joy.
Today’s first reading recounts the new zeal, the new love, and the new spirit of the early Christian community. A people who used to be afraid of the Jews and persecution, now have been transformed to a courageous people. They are now proud of themselves and their new heritage.
This heritage is their sharing in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He is the cause of their joy, love, unity and strength. This is what the resurrection of Christ did for us also. It restored our confidence as the people of God.
It lifts us from the dust, and places us exactly where we belong. In short, it reinstates us. In the second reading, Peter draws our attention to the mercy of God towards us. In his mercy, God has given us a new birth by allowing us to share in the resurrection of Christ:
“So that we have a sure hope, and the promise of an inheritance that can never be destroyed.” So, what we celebrate this season is also God’s wonderful mercy.
Surely, our salvation is guaranteed through the resurrection of Christ. However, the necessary tool for taking this salvation according to Peter, is our Faith. “Through your faith, God’s power will guard you, until the salvation which has been prepared for you is revealed at the end of time.
So, only faith can guarantee our salvation in the resurrected Christ. In today’s gospel, Christ presented himself to his disciples. During this very important visit, He dispelled their fears and doubts. He restored their peace, and commissioned them as ministers of the sacrament of reconciliation.
It suffices to note that it was not easy for Thomas to believe that Christ has risen. As we witness to the risen Christ, we shall certainly encounter those (some Thomas) who will doubt our testimony. Let us not be bothered by their unbelief and stubbornness.
This is because, God himself will convince them through the power of the Holy Spirit. All we need is, to simply to pass on the message and leave Christ the risen Lord to convince them.
So, like the disciples of Christ, let us continue to announce the good news to the whole world that Jesus Christ our Lord has truly risen from the dead.
As we celebrate divine mercy Sunday today, we are reminded that God extended his mercy to us by allowing his son pay the ransom for our sins. Christ accomplished this through his paschal mystery.
Finally, we too, must extend this mercy to others. Hence, we are called to be apostles of mercy. So, as we spread the good news of Christ’s resurrection, we must give thanks to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is because, in his mercy and generosity endures forever.
Our Church leads us now into what we might call “The time of the handing over of the Spirit.” To examine the significance of that time let’s return to God’s first breathing forth His Holy Spirit, that life-giving creative act of God that we find in the first verses in the Bible, in the Book of Genesis.
There we find God’s Spirit “brooding over the waters” bringing light out of darkness, order out of chaos, and life to all of God’s creatures. Creation was brought about by God’s Holy Spirit. In the fullness of time, Christ Jesus was conceived in the womb of the Virgin “by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
When Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River the Holy Spirit, like a dove, descended upon Jesus signifying that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ, the Anointed One, the One anointed by God’s Holy Spirit.
At the beginning of His public ministry Jesus was led out into the desert by the Spirit, there to be tempted by and to defeat the Devil. When He died on the Cross, St. John tells us that Christ handed over His Spirit. Each one of us is now destined to be a temple of God’s Holy Spirit.
It can be fairly said that the reason why Jesus was born among us and the reason why He died on the Cross was to give us God’s Holy Spirit, God’s holy presence, a presence that was lost when Adam and Eve separated themselves from God in the Garden of Eden.
In going to His apostles immediately after He rose from the dead, Christ Jesus was restoring God’s presence to us once again, God’s personal, life-giving, and loving presence –God’s special presence given to us now as His forgiven prodigal children.
What was lost in the Garden of Eden is now restored in the Garden of the Resurrection. What are the elements within that presence; what is the nature of that presence? Well, certainly it is not a passive presence. On the contrary it is a dynamic, creating, moving, and energizing presence.
Above all it is a sanctifying presence – we are made whole again, made whole with God. We are once again made holy, holier even than Adam and Eve… holier because, through Christ, God’s Holy Spirit is not simply present next to us or around us but lives now within us.
The time of the handing over of the Spirit culminates in Pentecost. Dying on the Cross, Jesus “handed over His Spirit,” St. John tells us. The first act of Jesus after He rose from the dead was to give His Spirit to His apostles.
At Pentecost, they were confirmed in the power and strength of the Holy Spirit so they might put their fears behind them and go out into the world, into our world, and share God’s recreating, life-giving, reconciling, forgiving, and healing Holy Spirit with you and with me.
It is sometimes said that one religion is as good as another, that it doesn’t matter what religion one belongs to. I think it does matter. It really matters because I don’t find what Jesus did for us — giving us the power of forgiveness — present in any other religion.
The handing over of the Spirit is for the forgiveness of our sins, it restores us to God’s life again. It is found uniquely in our wonderful Sacrament of Reconciliation. That matters… that really matters. In what other religion can you find that?
One final note. Since God has been so infinitely generous in giving us this gift, a gift that comes to us through the terrible suffering and death of His Christ, ought not we be generous in sharing our forgiveness with those around us who have sinned against us?
If we feel we don’t have the strength and power within us to do so we should remember that God has given us the strength and power to forgive. For the gift, we have been given is not ours to keep, it is a gift God has given to us in order that we might share it with others.
We have the power of the Holy Spirit within us to do so. May we offer the world around us the hope and the joy that, because of Jesus Christ, is found in the power to forgive. It is one of the greatest and most necessary gifts we have to share with all those in our world around us. Amen.