© Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church 2010

Second Sunday of Easter (or Sunday of Divine Mercy)

April 8, 2018


As we gather here, we are gather on what is known both as the Second Sunday of Easter and Divine Mercy Sunday.  If you were here on Easter, you have probably noticed since that time that Easter Candy, bunnies and decorations are now 50% off in the stores. A parking space for Sunday Mass is easier to find this week than it was on Easter and for the most part all of the Easter decorations have been put away.  Here we are, the week after Easter, another special day past and put back on the shelf for another year.
According to the Biblical story though, Easter is not just a day on the calendar.  Easter is the beginning of a whole new way of experiencing life and facing death.  As a result, the Church celebrates a season of Sundays reflecting on Easter and the ways the risen Christ is still living and active on earth through the life and witness of the Church.  Through the next handful of Sundays we will continue to listen to the stories of Scripture as they call us to reflect upon and apply the impact of Easter, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.  Like ripples of water that reach the shore one after another, these stories will wash over us, to help shed new light upon our lives of faith.  
In the Gospel we’ve just heard, the story begins on that first Easter Sunday, and then, continues one week later, the very week we celebrate today.  According to the gospel story, on Easter evening the disciples were huddled in a house, behind locked doors, fearing for their lives.  They had heard the story from Mary Magdalene about seeing the risen Lord.  They had heard the report of Peter and John about the empty tomb, but on that Easter evening, none of the rest of these men had actually seen the risen Lord.  So, they are still confused, afraid and not sure what to think.  They had seen Jesus die, but they had not seen Him resurrected and so it seems their minds are probably still more focused on His death.
So, the Gospel tells us, that Jesus appears in their midst, behind locked doors and shatters all their ideas about death and life.  He wishes peace upon them.  It is a word of greeting and a word of blessing.  And then, Jesus bestows upon them the job, the commission to forgive sins as a means of creating an enduring, living and Easter People.  
As great as all of this is, Thomas the Apostle is not there.  Thomas did not know that Jesus was going to show up, none of the apostles knew, but despite the obvious change in attitude of the other apostles, Thomas does not change his attitude about what has happened.  
Another week passes, the apostles are still behind locked doors but them time Thomas is with them.  Jesus appears in the same way with the same greeting, but this time He turns to Thomas who is now with the others and invites him to put his fingers into the nail marks and his hand into his pierced side.  The Gospel leads us to believe that Thomas did not do as the Risen Jesus commands him, but rather broke into faith and confession of Jesus by saying, “My Lord and my God.”  
For ourselves, it is easy for us to identify with Thomas because we can relate to his disbelief, because everyone has their moments of doubt and disbelief about many different things, even as an Easter People. All of the Gospels mention some doubt on the part of the disciples up until Pentecost, but the important thing to remember are the words Jesus says to Thomas, and by extension, to us as well, “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”  In other words, it is not necessary to probe the nail marks or put our hands into the side of Jesus to believe in the resurrection.  Like Thomas, what is required of us is simply to believe, to claim the truth that ultimately claims us, that Jesus Christ is our Lord and God. 
It is a week after Easter, but it not too late to be an Easter person, for Thomas or any of us.  And, that is the very reason and the purpose behind the gospel story, that all of us who hear it might “believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God and that through believing we might have life in name.”