2nd Sunday of Easter, Year A

We have two homilies by Father Hanly for 2nd Sunday of Easter, Year A: “Mercy” and “Saint John Paul II.”

Two Homilies:



In this beautiful homily for 2nd Sunday of Easter, Year A, Father Hanly talks about mercy.

Readings for Second Sunday of Easter, Year A

  • First Reading: Acts 2:42-47
  • Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24
  • Second Reading: First Peter 1:3-9
  • Gospel: John 20:19-31

Written Homily

Today, John the Apostle, when he begins his gospel, says it is the First Day. He wants every one of us to understand that the Resurrection of the Lord is the beginning of a whole new world. And this world is a world filled with God’s mercy.

Sometimes, we confuse mercy with pity. It is not pity. The mercy of God is actually the activity of God in the world. When the people of the Old and New Testaments speak of God’s mercy, they mean God is making something out of nothing. Think of that now. God is creating something new out of nothing.

A good example would be God sees all of us huddled in darkness, and He comes and says, “Let there be light!” and there is light. This is God’s mercy and his kindness. He reaches out to change our lives.

Jesus, once the little child of Bethlehem, is now the Risen Lord. This is very important to remember. It means God is among us, here and now, and his mercy is with us in this world.

It is our Saviour’s loving presence, the incarnation of God’s mercy, which changes our lives. For when we go about the world, we are filled with that merciful compassionate love, and it is this that changes the world. Jesus has made us vessels of his own divine mercy.

And how does God express such mercy?

Look at the life of Jesus in his own time. See what he does: He sees the blind and cures the blind. He sees the hungry and he feeds the hungry. He sees the lost and lonely, and goes out to them and gives them new purpose and a new life. He sees those who are sick and he heals them. This is God’s mercy constantly at work.

The living Christ is with us today in the world here and now. He will take what is rooted in darkness and bring about new light, he will take what is sinful and he will forgive us, he will take what is impossible to do, which is to change the hearts of men and women, and he will change them.

Remember the first night in the upper room when the Risen Lord suddenly appeared to the disciples? All of the disciples were there — all save one, for poor Thomas, doubting Thomas, was missing.

And when the disciples told Thomas, “We have seen the Lord,” he said, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

And, of course, these are the words of a disillusioned, angry child. These are the words of someone who’d hoped and hoped dearly, and was willing to die for his Jesus, and yet was terribly disappointed by what had happened. Jesus dies on a cross.

It was only a few weeks before, when Jesus heard that Lazarus had died and Jesus said he was going back to be there at the tomb, it was Thomas who cried out, “No, you can’t go there; they are ready to kill you.” And then when Jesus insists that he is going, Thomas says, “Let us all go then and die with him!”

Brave talk! Well, Thomas didn’t die with him, he ran away like everybody else.

And when Jesus appears in the upper room a second time, Thomas is there. He’s pouting, and he’s ashamed, and he’s lost his bravado.

It is for this reason the risen Jesus says to Thomas, “Thomas, put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Sweet loving forgiveness!

We are healed and saved by the wounds of Jesus, by his pains and sorrows, his agony on the cross, and ultimately his dying for us, because it is from touching his wounds and feeling his pain that we can understand God Himself, who has indeed come to be with us, not only in spirit, but also as the suffering servant and our Risen Lord.

Jesus has come to share our joy and our pain and he himself has come to stay. He wants us to know that God Himself shares the vulnerability of ordinary human beings.

And so what Jesus says to Thomas are words of love and also of vulnerability, which, of course, is the only way of love. The pains and difficulties and troubles along the way are only the gateways to the peace and joy of everlasting life with Jesus which is given to us here and now!”

We close with the words of St Peter in today’s second reading:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading,
kept in heaven for us all.”

Saint John Paul II

Saint John Paul II

In this lovely homily for 2nd Sunday of Easter, Year A, Father Hanly talks about the beatification of Pope John Paul II. It was delivered on 1st May 2011, the day of his beatification.

Readings for Second Sunday of Easter, Year A

  • First Reading: Acts 2:42-47
  • Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24
  • Second Reading: First Peter 1:3-9
  • Gospel: John 20:19-31



Today is a very special day. The reason of course is that, and you probably all know about it, but at this time, and they have been for the last twenty-four hours, the pilgrims and people of Rome have been coming to the Vatican, because today we are going to celebrate Pope John Paul who will be raised to the level of one short of sainthood.

I was thinking as I was coming over today, but more than that, even last night, of all the Popes that I have been alive for, which is quite a number, I think there was no-one quite like Pope John Paul.

Pope John Paul was, my first feeling was, I was in New York City when he came to visit New York, and there was a lady in New York, she was a reporter for the New Yorker magazine, and she jumped into a car, and the car was going, she told the taxi that she wanted to go to the Yankee Stadium.

The taxi driver was Jewish and he said, “Are you going to see the Pope?” because the Pope had been visiting New York that day and he was going to speak to the people in the Yankee Stadium, which was one of the largest areas of collecting people to watch the athletic events, but this time to see good Pope John Paul, whose reputation went ahead of him.

And she said, “Yes.” He said, “Are you a Catholic?” And she said, “Yes, I’m a Catholic.” And he said these lovely words: “You’ve finally got a Pope that can really pope.”

It was very cute. And she laughed and she later on wrote it up for the New Yorker magazine that, no matter where you came from, or how old you were or how young you were, or what race, creed or whatever, everybody felt that Pope John Paul was one that could really pope.

I looked into my little booklet and looked for the time that he died, as you recall he died in 2005, and not only his death but his illness and his dying and his burial were all on television throughout the whole world. And it seemed like the whole world stopped to witness the death and burial of this Pope.

And some of the things that I had written at that time on this old piece of paper, I’d like to share with you, because they mean even more to me now than when the passing of the Pope took place. I scribbled these ones.

Many emotions: there was joy, no, only sadness, a great sadness. It was a sadness that was brought about by the final death of a great Pope. But more than that, I can’t ever imagine witnessing the actual dying of a Pope. Because, as you know, the television sets had also taken care to film his last time, so what we were witnessing on television was not only the final agony of the Pope, but also his death.

And the pain of it all kind of unravelled before us. And I said to my friend, “You know he had Parkinson’s Disease, but not many people knew about it. But as you know Parkinson’s can be a very painful long process before you finally go home to God.”

And I said to my friend, “Why all the pain?” And he was a very gentle, loving kind of person and I said, “Did we have to have all this pain?” And he said, “Yes, we had to, because he had to die the way he lived, and he lived just as Jesus lived, he was his representative in the flesh in this world. But more than that, he had lived a life that was very much exactly the same as Jesus, his Lord and his Master, and, therefore, if Jesus had to die in pain, so good Pope John Paul also followed him. But he followed him as he followed Jesus into everlasting life.

There was a great sense of loss at the time when he passed away, a loss, but at the same time it was met with such an outpouring of people from all over the world that it wasn’t the Catholic Church that lost a leader, it seemed that everybody who attended or turned on the television, no matter where they were, felt that we’d all lost something very fragile, something very beautiful, something that we were all proud to have witnessed.

He was the second-longest reigning Pope in the history of the Catholic Church, which is a long time. And I think that, when he died, people of every age and every religion and in every way wept tears all together. So if his desire as Pope was to unite the whole world into a love of Jesus, by his dying he certainly united a good number of us in our own love for he himself.

The next thing I wrote down was his vision. He had a very distinct vision of who he was, as you know, his history, and what he wanted to be, and what he had to be when they made him Pope.

“Every person is endowed with an inalienable dignity.” That was his first poem: every person, every person was endowed with an inalienable dignity. And that inalienable dignity is deserving of love. It is deserving of love because God made him and God loved him first. If you haven’t found it yet: Why God loves. God loves because He is God. And what we are expected to do is to take that love with great gratitude and give it back in a kind of self-sacrificing love to all our brothers and sisters.

The second thing I wrote down came from a young boy. Pope John Paul had a great, great reputation among the young people. When he came to New York, they were dancing in the streets and telling jokes and singing songs. And even when I had seen him in Rome there were about ten thousand people in this room and every young group that came there sang him a song. It took hours. They sang him a song in every language that I knew. And it was lovely to see his response, because he was already sick but he was going to stay for the whole thing. And it just went on. And he answered the youth no matter what language they were in, in Russian, Greek, and in English, and in Italian, he thanked them in their own language.

Anyhow, the young boy had this to say about what the Pope meant for him: “This Pope always spoke the truth to us,” he said. “He had compassion for us. He treated us with dignity and respect. He said, ‘If you want to change yourself, to change your life, learn to respect other people. Try to love them and try to prove it by how you treat them. If you find you are going in wrong directions, turn to God and say you are sorry, and He will forgive you. He will. If you ask sincerely, He will give you whatever you need.

“’Also live up to your ideals. Sometimes they are very hard, but truth is always hard, sometimes it demands a certain harshness. But Jesus was never harsh and harshness is never demanded from a Christian.’”

And this is my favourite part of this quotation: “’Respect and love for your fellow human beings is the only hope for mankind’s future.’”

Today, we celebrate his beatification. And people used to say and they still say it now: “Too soon, too soon, we should wait a while, there might be secrets revealed that would give us second thoughts.” When I hear it, I kind of laugh, because if we waited and waited, the first five hundred years of the saints of the church would never have been beatified or consecrated.

And how did they make them in those days? People came together when they died and said, “This was a good man. This was a lovely lady. These people belong to God. And that’s how people get to heaven and that’s how people are judged.”

We will soon be calling him Saint, Saint John Paul, who was so in love with the church and what Jesus had done, he would call all the people in his congregation, “my dear saints,” because a saint is someone who belongs to God.

And as we began this little talk, the reason we belong to God is because God chose us and God sent His Son to redeem us. And His Son promised his disciples, while he was with us he said, “I will be with you always, even to the consummation of the world.”

So today we rejoice in having this wonderful, wonderful holy priest, who became a Bishop and a Cardinal and was given all the high values and honours that he could possibly want.

But the only thing he wanted was to be simply John Paul who loved the people. And he did. He loved them all.

Photo credit

Renata Sedmakova / Shutterstock.com
BRATISLAVA , SLOVAKIA – OCTOBER 1, 2014: The detail of mosaic in the St. Sebastian cathedral designed by Jesuit Mar­ko Ivan Rupnik (2011) with the saints Sebastian, Gorazd, Zdenka and John Paul II.

FAQ for Homily for 2nd Sunday of Easter, Year A

When is 2nd Sunday of Easter, Year A, in 2023?16th April 2023
What is the title of Father Hanly’s homily for Second Sunday of Easter, Year A?"Saint John Paul II" and "Mercy"
What is the next homily by Father Hanly in this Liturgical Cycle?
3rd Sunday of Easter, Year A
Who was Father Hanly?Father Denis J. Hanly was a Maryknoll Missionary
How can we find other homilies by Father Hanly?By Liturgical Calendar or by topic or by title

Information about Father Hanly’s homilies for 2nd Sunday of Easter, Year A

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If you would like to use our transcripts of either of these sermons (updated 2023), please contact us for permission.

Father Hanly's sermon for 2nd Sunday of Easter, Year A, "Saint John Paul II" was delivered on 1st May 2011. Father Hanly's sermon for 2nd Sunday of Easter, Year A, "Mercy" was delivered on 27th April 2014. It is sometimes hard to accurately transcribe Father Hanly's reflections, so please let us know if you think we have made a mistake in any of our transcripts, and let us have your suggestions.

We hope that Father Hanly’s homilies, always kind, always wise, always full of love, will restore you to peace and harmony through a new understanding of what is important in this world. We believe these homilies are inspiring for everyone, not only for Roman Catholics or other Christians.

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