Homily by Fr Elmer Ibarra SVD (Australia)
Sunday Octave of Easter
A nominal Catholic came up to the priest after a mass. He complained, “Father, your homily is boring. Every time I go to church it is always the same. It is always about the birth of Christ.” The priest replied, “My son, it is always about the birth of Christ because you only come to church during Christmas.”
In our gospel for today, we see how all the disciples rejoiced upon seeing the risen Christ but for some reason Thomas weren’t there that evening. He has missed out. And Thomas only missed out for one week and what he has missed out!!! Our Catholic faith cannot be sustained if we only turn up one or twice a year. The only way we can be sustained and not miss out on anything is if we would always be there. We can benefit a lot from our faith we are constant and are always there.
In the gospel, one question that some of us would want to ask, why wasn’t Thomas there with everybody when Jesus appeared the first time. And why Thomas so sceptical that he demanded a physical proof of his resurrection?
The crucifixion and death of Jesus horrified his disciples. Most probably, they saw what happened to him from afar. John was even fortunate and brave enough to be there under the cross when Jesus died. For his disciples all of them were pretty much distraught and troubles of what happened to Jesus. Peter denied him and wept bitterly, Judas hanged himself; all the other disciples deserted him.
So for Thomas, the experience of seeing the body of Jesus torn by the cross was just too much that he wanted some time for himself to reflect and perhaps to determine what he would do next. That’s why for Thomas, he was simply flabbergasted when the other disciples claimed that they had seen Jesus in the flesh. For him, this is just not possible. So he demanded a tangible proof of the resurrection of Jesus.
When all the disciples were gathered again a week after Jesus’ resurrection, Jesus appeared again in the flesh. And Jesus knowing the thoughts of our hearts kindly asked Thomas to put his finger on his hands and his side and to cease his unbelief and finally believe. And Thomas in a moment of inspiration has given us those five words that is so profound that all Bible scholars believed that this is the proof that Jesus is divine, the confession of Thomas, as he said, “My Lord and My God!” He recognised Jesus not only as his earthly Lord but also his God. And with this confession, we are guided to believe that Jesus is truly human and truly divine.
Today, we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday. Through a proclamation of Saint John Paul II, we are dedicating the Second Sunday of Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday. Through the vision and writings of St. Faustina Kowalska, we have realised on the importance of the Divine Mercy on how important that we should rely on Jesus’ Divine Mercy for the salvation of our souls. On how this is the day that is dedicated on total forgiveness for those who approach the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
The message that Jesus instructed St. Faustina to be written on the bottom of the image, “Jesus, I trust in you.” Is a message that is so profound that it challenges us in almost all aspects of our lives. The message of the Divine Mercy is also a message of trust. Many times in our lives, we wanted to trust ourselves that we can control all the aspects of our lives but only to be frustrated and disappointed when things are not happening our way. “Jesus, I trust in you” is a message for all of us that we should not trust ourselves but must place our trust in Jesus. To trust him that despite of our sinfulness and thinking that we are so unworthy of Jesus’ mercy, Jesus’ ocean of mercy would always overcome even the worst of all sin. The only thing we have to do is to trust in him.
Jesus in the end of today’s gospel said that “Blessed are those who have not yet seen and yet believed.” And for us who have believed we should feel blessed because we have trusted Jesus’ word. May this feast of the Divine Mercy would help us to trust Jesus more and have faith that his mercy would overcome all the evils in the world and his mercy would come out triumphant.