Today is the second Sunday of Easter; and with it we conclude the Octave of Easter.
On this day we celebrate the Divine Mercy: Years ago, in the 1930s, Jesus appeared to Sister Faustina Kowalska and promised her that He would bestow His Divine Mercy on any sinner, who would repent his sins, no matter how grave they were. He promised He wouldn’t refuse any soul that would seek His mercy. He also asked Sister Faustina, on numerous occasions, that a feast day be dedicated to celebrate the Divine Mercy and that this day be celebrated on the Sunday after Easter.
On 30th April, 2000 when Pope John Paul II canonized Sister Faustina, he said, “It’s important that we accept the whole message that comes to us from the word of God on this second Sunday of Easter, which from now on throughout the church, will be called ‘Divine Mercy Sunday’.”
On this day-today-people are asked to reflect on their lives and repent whatever wrongs they have committed, no matter how big. Based on this, the day is also known as the feast of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Today, being the eighth day (one week) since Easter Sunday, Christians are called to reflect on the mysteries of Easter; how Christ’s death and resurrection has impacted our lives:
Why Sunday; genesis of Sunday as the day of worship
After His resurrection, Jesus made His first appearance on Easter Sunday, when He appeared to Mary Magdalene and later His disciples. Thomas, also known as ‘the twin’ wasn’t with them at the time. When the rest of the disciples told him Jesus had appeared to them he refused to believe.
Eight days later, when the disciples were gathered in a closed room, afraid of the Jewish authorities, Jesus appeared to them. This time Thomas was with them. Jesus asked him to feel the scars on His hands and on His side. It’s only after that experience that Thomas believed He truly was the risen Christ. (John 20: 11-28).
On both occasions, Jesus appeared to His disciples on the first day of the week; which on the current calendar is translated as a Sunday. Before His death and resurrection, the Sabbath-Saturday-was observed as the holy day. That’s why the authorities faulted Jesus for healing people on the Sabbath; which was against the law as the commandments handed down to Moses said to keep the Sabbath day holy.
After He resurrected, the first day of the week-Sunday-was interpreted to be the day of meeting with the Lord. And from then, Sunday is celebrated as the Holy day.
Faith as communitarian; importance of going to church
We’re told Thomas wasn’t in the room the first time Jesus appeared to His disciples. One would wonder, “Where was he?” In the bible it’s not mentioned where he was at the time. Again, one would imagine the state he was in after learning of Jesus’ resurrection. Excitement and fear maybe? Chances are he was out there trying to confirm if there was any truth to the rumours being circulated about Jesus’ resurrection.
Wherever he was, he didn’t see Jesus. That’s why he had a difficult time believing the other disciples. Alone, he didn’t find the resurrected Christ. It was only when he was together with the other disciples, gathered behind locked doors that Jesus appeared again.
From this we see that when it comes to matters faith, one might not find Christ on a lone journey; but it’s evidently clear that where people are gathered in prayer, the Lord is ever present. Due to this, people are encouraged to pray as a community; as a church.
Blessed are those who have not seen me and yet believe
Jesus told Thomas, “You have believed me because you have seen me. Happy are those who haven’t seen me and yet believe.”
A Christian’s life is all about believing the unseen; believing in a God we have never seen. We’re told faith is a gift. This is simply because one can’t buy it from a mall etc. It’s something that should be felt; something we receive from God’s Holy Spirit. Like the air we breathe; we don’t see it, but we know it’s there. It’s the same with God. Should we refuse to believe He exists just because we have never seen His face? Only the Son knows how His Father looks like. But should that stop us from believing?
In John 8: 55, Jesus told the Pharisees, “You have never known Him, but I know Him. If I were to say I do not know Him, I would be a liar like you. But I do know Him, and I obey His word.”
We believe in God the Father, because we believe in the God the Son.
Thomas is a symbol of all those who doubt Christ. It’s okay to have doubts because it’s only by trying to clear the doubts that we find answers, which in turn strengthen our faith. However, in this day and age, God doesn’t make ‘dramatic’ appearances like He used to in the olden days. For the Christians of today, we believe because of the experiences written in the bible. If one waits to believe when they actually see God, the day might never come, so they’ll die without believing.
From my own experiences though, I can say confidently; God is always there with us. We only have to let ourselves feel His presence in our lives. Call Him today; He will answer. And if He doesn’t come immediately, don’t lose hope. Jesus took eight days to appear; to prove His resurrection to doubting Thomas. It’s all about Faith and Hope. That is what Easter gives us.