Homily for April 12, 2015: 2nd Sunday of Easter/Divine Mercy Sunday: Msgr. Jim Miller

Second Sunday of Easter

Sunday of Divine Mercy

April 12, 2015

Reading 1 Acts 4:32-35

Responsorial Psalm Ps 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24

R. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, his love is everlasting.

Reading 2 1 Jn 5:1-6

Gospel Jn 20:19-31



It was Palm Sunday, but because of a sore throat, a little boy had to stay home from church with a sitter.  When the family returned home, they were carrying palm branches.  The boy asked them what they were for.

“People held them over Jesus’ head as he walked by,” his father told him.

“Just my luck,” the boy said.  “The one Sunday I don’t go and he shows up.”

I wonder if Thomas said something like that when the other disciples said that Jesus had appeared to them!   Where was Thomas?  Why was he absent?   We don’t know but as a result of his absence, he didn’t see Jesus or hear him speak or receive his peace.  He wasn’t there when Jesus breathed forth his spirit on his own.  Therefore, he didn’t understand; his faith was shaken.  He had nothing to hold onto but his doubt.

William Bausch in his book Once Upon a Gospel suggests that we too, at times, are absent Thomases.  “We are absent from sufficient knowledge about our faith”.   Because we don’t know as much about our faith tradition as could, we don’t know how to interpret popular fictions like ‘The DaVinci Code’ or how to evaluate other religions.  While we may be up-to-date on current events, and while we try to remain current in our job skills, we may not always be so conscientious in enriching our faith and appreciating the rich traditions of our church.   Did your religious education end in grade school or high school?   Our religious formation must be continuous.  It does not end until our life does.   I recently heard that one of our parishioners was studying Greek so he could read the Bible in one of the original languages!!   Now that is continuing your faith education!!    Reading the Archdiocesan newspaper, “The Witness” and religious articles in The Word Among US or the Magnificat or listening to Catholic radio 98.3 or watching EWTN could spark your interest and deepen your faith experience.   Take a book from our parish library to read or suggest a Catholic book that you would like to read and we could add it to our library.   There are also CD’s available in the library for purchase which are good to listen to when driving a distance.

We who also know and believe Jesus-risen are to offer that same experience to others.  Ralph Kuehner and Joseph Juknialis pointed out in their book Living the Word that resurrection happens whenever love transforms life:  when someone offers forgiveness despite a burning desire for vengeance; when a nation begins to value and protect the rights of all, not just a few; when the poor, hungry, homeless and disenfranchised are attended as brothers and sisters; when immigrants and refugees are not left to drown or imprisoned but are welcomed as the children of God.  Resurrection happens when enemies sit down together to talk instead of planning the other’s demise.  I heard a story about Fr. Robert Kalb who was visiting Boston years ago and as they were walking past a park they saw two men in an  argument who were about ready to start fighting.  Fr. Bob, who was a big man and wearing his clerical attire went back to them and grabbed both of them by the shoulder and talked them down and had them shake hands before he left!!   That is resurrection.  Resurrection is happening all around us; let us venture out of our locked doors and celebrate.  Jesus, our Lord and our God, lives!

That first reading shows us an ideal Christian community of sharing.   There was an ancient saying in the Hellenistic world:  “Friends are of one heart and one soul.  The possessions of friends are common property.”

The ideal community was admired and emulated by others, a fact expressed by Justin Martyr’s description of his own community:  “We, who once coveted most greedily the wealth and fortune of others, now place in common the good we possess, dividing them with all the needy,”(I Apology 14:2-3)

Chapter 5 of the Acts of the Apostles reminds us that the ideal was not always reached in the early Christian community.  It lets us know that the early church was still an imperfect and struggling community—much like our own.

In his first encyclical letter Pope Francis wrote in collaboration with Pope Benedict XVI it states:  “In God’s gift of faith, a supernatural infused virtue, we realize that a great love has been offered us, a good word has been spoken to us, and that when we welcome that word, Jesus Christ the Word made flesh, the Holy Spirit transforms us, lights up our way to the future and enables us joyfully to advance along that way on wings of hope,  Thus wonderfully interwoven, faith, hope and charity are the driving force of the Christian life as it advances towards full communion with God.”

Just before his death, Pope John Paul II wrote:

As a gift to humanity, which sometimes seems bewildered and overwhelmed by the power of evil, selfishness, and fear, the Risen Lord offers his love that pardons, reconciles, and reopens hearts to love.  It is a love that converts hearts and gives peace.  How much the world needs to understand and accept Divine Mercy!

Lord,. . . we believe in you and confidently repeat to you today:  Jesus, I trust in you, have mercy on us and on the whole world.”