Homily – Divine Mercy Sunday
ARCHBISHOP CHRISTOPHER PROWSE
CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF CANBERRA AND GOULBURN
SATURDAY 7 APRIL 2018
ST AUGUSTINE’S YASS
DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY – SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR B)
Acts 4:32-35, 1 John 5:1-6, John 20:19-31
Although there are historical dimensions in the Scriptures, in essence the Scriptures are Faith documents. They are the Faith documents of people living out the Easter message – Jesus is Alive, Alleluia!
Scripture is also written in a very condensed fashion. Much is said in few words.
The Easter message of today’s Gospel is clear. Even in the first sentence of today’s Gospel much is said! St John sets the scene: “In the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews!”
The writer is as pains to say it is “The first day of the week.” It is the day of the Resurrection. It is the day of Hope and Joy. New beginnings are happening! At the end of this same sentence though there is the road block…”The doors were closed in the room…for fear.”
Fear is the great poison of the human heart. It blocks the Joy deep down within and is ultimately dispelled for all Christians by Faith in the Resurrection.
The post Resurrection episode of today’s Gospel continues. Jesus walks into the room. The first words of the Risen Lord are always “Peace be with you.” The Risen Lord then breathes on them and offers them the great gift of the Holy Spirit.
Then once again another road block appears.
St Thomas was not present.
St Thomas is a little bit like a typical Australian. Belief is dependant in an exaggerated manner on scientific proof. Everything has to be “evidence based.” In an attitude of arrogance and isolation St Thomas makes the following condition on belief…”Unless I see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my finger into the holes they made… I refuse to believe.” Then Hope reappears. Jesus reappears eight days later.
The Risen Lord once again says to everybody “Peace be with you.”
On this “Divine Mercy Sunday” we see Divine Mercy in action here with his wonderful encounter with St Thomas. Rather than disciplining Thomas he accepts Thomas and his narrow minded conditions on belief. He goes up to Thomas, shows him his Risen Wounds and invites Thomas to do exactly what Thomas wanted to do, to put his fingers into these wounds. It’s always a wonderful aspect of Easter to know that after the Resurrection Jesus is still wounded, but his wounds have now been redeemed. He invites the woundedness of each one of us and the woundedness of humanity to be touched by his Redeeming Wounds and to be healed and to launch out into the mission of the Church by boasting of our healed woundedness in Jesus Christ, our Redeemer and Saviour!
In the face of the Divine Mercy, Thomas can see his own stupidity and he offers the Church one of the briefest and yet most beautiful creedal statements of all time. He says “My Lord and My God.”
As if talking to us today in 2018, Jesus then makes the following comment to Thomas: “You believe because you see me. Happy are those who have not seen me and yet believe.”
We are the ones who have not seen Jesus face to face. We have seen him in our hearts and we see him in our Sacraments, we see him in the Living Word and we see him in the beauty of nature and so on. But we have not seen him as Thomas sees him as the Risen Redeemer in a face to face encounter. It’s as if Jesus is reaching out through the corridors of time to us right now to affirm us in our faith and to give us Joyful Hope in the Resurrection in spite of the many obstacles and fragilities of living out the Catholic Christian Good News in today’s Australian world.
Let us continue with the Mass placing our complete hope in the Risen Lord who forever will be “Our Lord and Our God.”