by Fr W. Nkomo
Click here for Sunday’s readings
1st Reading Acts 2: 42 – 47
Rsp Psalm 118: 2-4.13-15.22-24
2nd Reading: 1 Peter1: 3 – 9
Gospel: John 20: 19 – 31
Divine Mercy: the Easter gift through which God comes down to humanity’s level to provide for every need.
Today the Church celebrates the second Sunday of Easter also known as the Divine Mercy Sunday. Divine mercy is “God’s loving mercy” towards humanity. Loosely translated it is God coming into communion with humanity; pain, sorrow, suffering and death in order for humanity to be in communion with God in His glorious splendour. This year is the 20th anniversary of the inauguration of this special feast of the Church, a feast on which the Church remembers the mercy of God and acclaims together with the Psalmist “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his mercy endures forever!”
The whole miracle of the salvation of humanity is contained in the gift received at Easter. This gift is the miracle of mercy which has radically changed humanity’s destiny. This is achieved by the unfolding fullness of the love of the Father who, for our redemption does not even draw back before the sacrifice of His only begotten Son (John 3:16). The resurrection then becomes a testimony to the victory of God against all human deficiencies.
It was that very new destiny that gave the disciples a new identity as we find it expressed in the first reading. An identity that motivated them to live a common life through which they shared a bond of responsibility for one another. In the life of the disciples this was an assent to the message of the gospel. To the message of the resurrection. They knew that God had given up everything just for them to live hence they had the courage to give up everything so that others may have life.
St Peter in the second reading reflects on this changed human destiny when he says that, “by His [God’s] great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Which means that through the resurrection of Christ after taking on human nature humanity has a right to inherit that “imperishable, undefiled, and unfading inheritance, kept for us in heaven.” In Jesus God became what we are in order for us to be what God is.
In the gospel we see that out of all the sources of uneasiness in human life there is none worse than fear. That is not the only thing we hear in the gospel we are also told that when mercy takes over there is nothing that can stop it from achieving its purpose. In the Gospel we hear that the disciples out of fear of the Jews locked themselves in and how Jesus enters without opening any door. The Risen one comes to them in their own space for that is what mercy does; gets to you where you are. The first thing that Jesus did was to heal their fear he gave them the gift they needed most without them telling him; “Peace be with you.” To give them assurance of his identity he showed them all the wounds that their uneasiness caused him and they were filled with joy. He told them peace be with you as though he was telling them not to be afraid for his peace was enough to heal them.
There was yet another uneasiness that remained, that is sin. Therefore he breathed on them saying “receive the Holy Spirit.” A new creation was achieved on that day, a new chosen people was formed and they were to live in the guidance of the Holy Spirit. To make sure that sin never has the final word in human life redeemed by God’s loving mercy he said “whose sins you forgive are forgiven them and whose sins you retain are retained.” It was Jesus Himself who gave them the mandate to take God’s mercy to all people, to free them from their uneasiness and yes he did so after he had given them a share in his own life of grace.
Dear brothers and sisters the absence of Thomas was ensured that Jesus’ two natures are revealed to the disciples and to us through them. It was Thomas’ answer to Jesus “My Lord and my God” which revealed both the human and divine natures of Jesus Christ and this affirms what John had said right in the beginning of his Gospel that “the Word was God.”
God’s mercy is an everlasting invitation to all of us to allow the Risen Lord to recreate us, to form us into a new creation. A creation that will willingly lower ourselves to the level of all those who are in need and lift them up by accepting the responsibility for their well-being and in so doing witness to the power of God’s loving mercy. God still wants to heal people from their uneasiness and Jesus left his disciples to carry out this duty and today he invites us to do the same be instruments in God’s hand to heal humanity.