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
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.”