Fr Dom's Homily
Year B 2021
Fr Dominic Orih
Divine Mercy Sunday (Second Sunday of Easter)
Happy Easter to you all and I hope you are all filled with the gifts and blessings of the resurrected Christ.
Today is Divine Mercy Sunday, a time we are reminded of God’s Divine Mercy and love upon us. If we recall during the Paschal Triduum, the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ that we read on Good Friday paints the picture of the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. And not only that, but we also get to see how Jesus was betrayed and abandoned by his close friends – his disciples. Something was displayed as Jesus hung on a cross; something that revealed what we are capable of doing, and the extent we can go to get what we want. Jesus was condemned by the state and the religious authority of his time, and his disciples abandoned, betrayed and denied him.
In our Gospel reading today, Jesus appeared to his disciples. This is his first appearing to his disciple since he rose from the dead. The bible says that in the evening of the first day of the week, the disciples locked themselves inside for fear of the Jews. They feared that those who condemned and crucified Jesus will come after them as followers of Jesus to kill them too, so they locked themselves inside. At this moment of fear and anxiety Jesus appeared and stood among them. Now, I can’t imagine what was going on in their mind at that very moment. In a world that worships on the altar of revenge and retribution, the disciples thought that Jesus was out for revenge when he appeared to them. Instead, he offers them peace and says to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ This is something beyond their understanding. I don’t know about you, but somebody like me would try my best to bring up the issue and ask them why they all ran away and abandoned me when I most needed them. Yet, Jesus didn’t even bring it up, he didn’t even ask them about it, the first words that came out of his mouth were fresh words of grace – Peace be with you! Shalom! Mercy! Love! This is why this Sunday is called Divine Mercy Sunday because in Jesus we see how God displayed immeasurable love and universal forgiveness before any other thing. God in Jesus is displayed here in not having any need to punish, blame and accuse like we all do. Unlike us, we love to let people know when they hurt us, and in a way, we do that because we somehow want to punish them back. But Jesus doesn’t do that and what he showed is pure grace of unmerited love. It is Divine Mercy outpouring on all humanity.
In the passage, when Thomas, one of the twelve who was not with them when Jesus appeared, came back and he was told that their Master appeared to them, he didn’t believe. He said that unless he sees him with his own eyes and puts his fingers in the holes that were made by the nails in his hands and the hole made by the spear in his side, he would not believe. Now eight days later, Jesus appeared to them again in their locked room and this time, Thomas was there. I wondered why Jesus waited for eight days to appear again, and I wonder, maybe it is because he wants Thomas to sit with the period of obscurity and not having the need to see proof before he could believe, because Jesus could have appeared to them the next day. But no, he waited for eight days. This is not Jesus saying, ‘see I have risen from the dead.’ No, but a way of reminding us that the period of obscurity and uncertainty are important in our faith journey, and Jesus doesn’t want our faith to rely on proof before we could assent to Divine mystery.
When he appeared, he asked Thomas to put his fingers in the holes that he carries and touch his wounds. One would think that somebody rising from the dead would at least do some cosmetic makeup to cover their wounds, so that the person appears perfect and unwounded. Instead, even in his resurrected body, Jesus appears with his wounds to tell us that our wounds are part of our story and we have to own them and tell a resurrected story with them. The real mystery here is the fact that Jesus asked Thomas to put his fingers in his wounds, to show that the wounds are real. This tells us that you can be wounded and resurrected at the same time, as Richard Rohr puts it. That is the mystery that each one of us shares in, because we all have our wounds. It shows that all of us can be wounded and resurrected at the same time. The tragedy is that many of us were taught not to show our wounds or to hide them in order to appear perfect before God. We somehow believe that we have to be perfect before we come to God or experience God’s Divine Mercy. That we have to pretend that we have it all together, that we have not messed up or falling short before we come to God. That is the lie that Christ revealed to us today because God’s Divine Mercy does not know any bounds, and we are not to hold ourselves back with our thoughts that we are wounded and therefore not deserving of Divine Mercy.
So, may you my dear brothers and sisters come to know that boundless love and mercy of God upon your life; and as you do so, may you live the resurrected life that brings the peace that surpasses all understanding in the risen Christ. Amen.
And may God bless you!