My Lord and My God
Second Sunday of Easter – Divine Mercy Sunday (16/04/2023)
(Acts of the Apostles 2: 42-47; 1 Psalm 118:2-4,13-15,22-24; Peter 1 :3-9; John 20:19-31)
By Fr. Samuel Odeh
“Without having seen him you love him; though you do not now see him you believe in him…”(1 Peter 3: 8). Up until recently, it was the practice in most of our churches to proclaim St Thomas’ declaration of faith in today’s Gospel reading, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28) at the elevation of the bread and the chalice by the priest. The risen Jesus is present in the church today through the Holy Eucharist and in the community of believers; the community we call “the Church” is the evidence that Jesus is truly risen and living among us through his gift of the Holy Spirit. This second Sunday of Easter is also called Divine Mercy Sunday because today Jesus commissioned his disciples to forgive sins through the gift of the Holy Spirit. This can be seen as the beginning of the Sacrament of Reconciliation or Confession. It was difficult for the first disciples to believe that the man they had seen nailed to a cross, whom they saw die and buried, was alive again. Jesus, in his resurrected and glorified body, appeared among the disciples even when the doors were locked. The evangelists make it clear that the risen Jesus appeared to his disciples in a physical body and not as a spirit or a ghost. The mercy of the risen Jesus can also be seen in his very first words to the gathered disciples: “Peace be with you” (John 20: 19). He wishes them well, bears them no grudge, and forgives them any wrong they committed against him, especially during his passion.
In the doubt of St Thomas and his refusal to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead, because he was absent from the first meeting, those of us who have come to believe in Jesus without seeing him physically are represented. For us Christians seeing is not believing. We are called to believe without seeing “.. for we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5: 7). Like all of us, compelled by human nature, St Thomas demanded hard evidence that the Jesus who rose from the dead was also the same Jesus who was crucified: “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” (John 20: 25). Eight days later, Jesus grants St Thomas’ request and he comes to believe. Thanks to the preaching of St Thomas and the first disciples the gift of faith in the crucified and resurrected Jesus has made its way to us. The same Holy Spirit Christ’s breath gave to them is given to us also at Baptism. Let us celebrate the blessings of Christ in our faith and belief in the resurrection from the dead and the forgiveness of sins.