Homily for the second Sunday of Easter - Year A - Jn. 20:19-31


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

"On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, 'Peace be with you.' When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, 'Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.' And 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; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.'


"Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, 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 in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.' Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but 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; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing.' Thomas answered him, 'My Lord and my God!' Jesus said to him, 'Have you believed because you have seen me? Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.'


"Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name."





Homily:


"On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, 'Peace be with you.' When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord."


Today is Mercy Sunday! Since the year 2001, on the second Sunday of Easter - that is, today - we consecrate a day, the Day of the Lord, to honor the divine Mercy. Or in other words, a Sunday to praise the Love of God, a Love full of compassion for all those who have sinned, and therefore for us... For, who has not sinned? Who is so pure that he has no need for mercy?


What happiness it is to know that God is ready to forgive us all our sins! What happiness to know that Peace with the Lord is so near, within our reach! We need but to stretch out our hand! We need but to reach out with our finger and touch the Heart of the risen Jesus, for the wound in his side has remained open, in order that he might show us his Love! Jesus "said to them, 'Peace be with you.' When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side."


"Jesus said to them again, 'Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.' And 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; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.' "


What happiness to receive from the Lord forgiveness for our sins! But, also, what happiness it is for us priests to be associated with the Lord in his unique priesthood, through which he reconciles in himself all the men and women who come to him, by his grace! For Jesus wanted to take on as helpers men, human beings of the masculine sex, like him, in order to make them participants in his priesthood of Mercy!


Is this not a further confirmation of his mercy? Not only does Jesus want to forgive all the men and women of the world, but, in addition, he does not want his presence, his goodness, his compassion to be invisible, impalpable, incorporeal; on the contrary, he wants them to be, as it were, incarnated in beings of flesh like you and me. For the priests of the Lord are called to be other Christs; to be, like Christ, full of goodness and compassion for sinners! May it be so!


"Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, 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 in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.' Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but 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; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing.' "


Jesus appeared to his disciples on Easter night: already this was a great testimony to his mercy towards them. But, that day, Thomas was not present... In fact, we are told that Thomas was very discouraged, almost destroyed by all that had just taken place... But when the other disciples told him of the first apparition of the risen Lord, Thomas regained a little of his taste for life and was even filled with zeal, a zeal not for believing in what the others had said, but rather for disputing it, for being a dissident of the kind we find in almost all groups and associations. In brief, Thomas wants to fight it out with the Jesus who had disappointed him: "Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe."


In Thomas, faith is not dead, thanks to God... For if it were, Thomas would have went and hung himself, like Judas... But the faith of Thomas is without force or strength... It is waiting to receive, as it were, shock treatment, that of the apparition of Jesus, eight days after Easter... For faith always needs to receive from God himself the force and strength to truly believe, in a durable and stable manner. Thus, speaking of the devil who prowls around seeking to devour us, Saint Peter writes: "Resist him, firm in your faith." (1 Peter 5:9) So, finally, on this eighth day after his Resurrection, Jesus gives Thomas this power, saying to him: "Do not be faithless, but believing." For this power, this force, comes from "his word of power" (Hebrews 1:3).


"Thomas answered him, 'My Lord and my God!' Jesus said to him, 'Have you believed because you have seen me? Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.' "


"Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe!" Does this mean that Saint Thomas was not happy, or that he was less happy, because he believed after having seen Jesus? To this question it is easy to reply that Saint Thomas was certainly happy in his belief in the risen Jesus. But whether he was more or less happy does not concern us... God does as he wills! All that we must know is that his Mercy is infinite and that his Love extends to all the men and women of all times, to those of yesterday just as to those of today!


Soon, we shall receive Jesus in his Eucharist: it is the Love of the Heart of God that will be poured out in our soul! May the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of Mercy, intercede for each of us! May we, through her prayer, be able to respond with a strong and powerful faith to the merciful Love of the Lord! Amen!



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