08 April 20182 Easter

Homily from Father James Gilhooley
2 Easter
Second Sunday of Easter - Cycle B - John 20:19-31

A kindergarten teacher had difficulty having her pupils understand Easter. One five year old thought he would make her day. He shouted, "Christ died, was buried, and rose. If He saw His shadow, we would have six more weeks of winter." In a book modestly titled The Great Thoughts, Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb, is quoted as dogmatically saying, "I have never seen the slightest scientific proof for the religious theories of heaven and hell." Edison was a genius. But he was not a theologian. Even our kindergarten child could tell him if one can prove something by scientific proof, one is not talking about faith. And faith, as the apostle learned, is the point at issue in this Easter season. The doubting apostle after his encounter with the Lord had more in common with the 13th century Thomas Aquinas than with the 20th century Thomas Edison. Aquinas wrote: "The heart can go where the head has to leave off." Writers spend more time on Thomas the Inventor than they do on Thomas the Apostle. That is a pity. Thomas has more to teach us about the answers to the ultimate questions than Edison. The apostle was a complex and unique personality. That uniqueness may explain why Jesus chose him in the first place. It is probable that Our Lord was determined to use that personality for our education. Who knows? Perhaps Mr Edison learned in the course of his long life the wisdom of RB Graham. "It takes more faith to be an atheist than it does to believe in God."

There are but three informative references to Thomas in the New Testament. Each is in John's Gospel. The Gospel of John was the last to be penned. Perhaps John the Eagle concluded that the neglect of Thomas in earlier accounts did a serious injustice to Thomas himself and to Catholics at large. A composite work-up of his psyche from John's Gospel today tells us much about Thomas. It is the last Gospel reference to Thomas. He is pessimistic, stubborn as that famous mule, and subject to the all too common line that teaches seeing is believing. "I believe," said the college freshman to me, "only what I can see." She was convinced she had coined the line. Someone has noted Thomas had a question mark for a mind. This complicated psyche is graphically illustrated in the 16th century Carvaggio's masterful painting of Thomas putting his finger into Christ's wound. We know the Gospel story and especially its happy ending. Thomas would never forget that searing line of his resurrected Leader, "Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe!" The doubting Thomas had received a lecture on faith that he would never forget. It is a message which Edison never learned. Thomas the apostle had told his fellows that seeing is believing. Christ taught the apostle that believing is seeing.

The no longer doubting apostle would enthusiastically applaud the observer who opined that a strong faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible, and receives the impossible. There was nothing uncertain about Thomas' unqualified cry to the Nazarene, "My Lord and my God." While he was the last of the apostles to believe in the risen Christ, he was the first to make such an unequivocal confession of His divinity. In a millisecond, his faith had taken a quantum leap. It must have splintered every theological seismograph throughout Jerusalem. The Gospels tell us Thomas had a twin. Who is his twin? It is you and I. William Bausch tells us we are all a mixture of doubt and certainty, pessimism and trust, unbelief and belief. On those days, when doubt, pessimism, and unbelief hold the cards, we must hold onto Thomas' cloak and not let go for dear life. The 6th century St Gregory realized the value of Thomas to Christendom at large. He wrote: "The slow surrender of Thomas is of more advantage to strengthen our faith than the more ready faith of all the believing apostles." And John realized this point centuries before Gregory. So he tells us Thomas' story. As we leave this Liturgy today, we should say a prayer in gratitude for such a person as the apostle Thomas. But in addition each one of us will want to reflect on the aphorism that teaches that it is not sufficient for Catholics to believe their faith. They must tell others about it. "Our lives end the day," said Martin Luther King, Jr, "that we become silent about things that matter." And do remember to say an Ave Maria for Thomas Edison. Despite my trashing, we owe the man a great deal.

Homily from Father Joseph Pellegrino
2 Easter
Second Sunday of Easter: God's Mercy Forgives Our Doubts

ThisThis Sunday is Divine Mercy Sunday. It is also the Sunday where the Gospel reading is always that of Doubting Thomas. That's because the second part of today's Gospel takes place the Sunday after Easter. Now I used to have a difficult time trying to understand why Pope St. John Paul II would place Divine Mercy Sunday this week. Isn't mercy the main theme of Lent? Recently, though, I have realized that mercy is the foundation of the Easter Season. Jesus came to bring God's mercy to the world. His death defeated the power of evil. People could now approach the throne of Grace, as The Letter to the Hebrews presents it, to receive mercy. Look closely at the first meeting of the Resurrected Christ with his disciples. It's in today's Gospel. He stood among them and said, "Peace with you, as the Father has sent me, so I send you." Then he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained." Jesus came to bring mercy to the world. He empowered the disciples and through them the Church, to be the vehicle of His Mercy. Thomas doubted the Lord. Perhaps he was really doubting the story of the disciples.

Like him, they all had deserted the Lord. Their leader, Peter, had even denied him. One of them, Judas, had turned traitor. But there was more to Thomas doubting then his distrusting the other disciples. Thomas had heard the Lord say that He would be put to death and that on the third day He would rise from the dead. Thomas was doubting what Jesus had said. Picture that scene from Thomas' perspective when he was in the Upper Room the week after Easter. There were the other disciples with their tale of having seen Jesus the week before. Thomas must have thought, "These guys really are Looney Toons. I've got to get away from here ASAP." And then Jesus appears. "Oh, oh," Thomas had to think, "I am in deep trouble." But he wasn't. Jesus understood his doubts. He didn't just offer Himself as proof that He had risen. He forgave Thomas for doubting. And that is the key for today's celebration. Jesus forgives us for doubting. People will often confess having doubts in the faith. They wonder if God will forgive them for doubting Him. I think we all wonder if God will forgive us for doubting. Of course He will. He knows what it is like to be human. He knows how even the most determined believer will still have periods of doubts in his or her life.

He came for mercy. Remember adolescents and the early Teen years? That was the wonderful period in our lives when we began to look at the world in a completely different way than we looked at the world during childhood. We challenged a lot of things. Perhaps, we even challenged God. The images of God of our childhood lost their weight in adolescence. We may have even gone through periods when we were certain that God did not exist. But through our struggles, we began to realize that God was infinitely greater than our minds could comprehend. And then guilt hit us. How could we go before God after doubting Him? Would He forgive us? Of course He will, and He does forgive us. He forgave Thomas who had been with Him for those three years experiencing the Lord's wonders and being held spellbound by His preaching, but who still doubted Him. If the Lord was willing to forgive Thomas, He will forgive us. One of the most reassuring messages of scripture comes at the conclusion of today's Gospel.

After Thomas made his prayer of faith, saying "My Lord and My God," Jesus said, "Have you come to believe because you have seen me?" And then the Lord looked down the ages, he looked at all people of all time, He looked directly at you and at me, and said, "Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed." How good is that? We are being blessed by the Lord because we have not seen Him, yet still believe in Him. "Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name." John 20:30 The result of our taking the leap of faith is that we allow Him into our lives. And when we allow Him in, He comes totally, with His Life. We pray for faith today. We seek forgiveness for our times of doubt, and we are convinced that His mercy will fill us with His Life. After all, this is Divine Mercy Sunday.

Homily from Father Phil Bloom
* Available in Spanish - see Spanish Homilies
2 Easter
MeToo & Need for Mercy
(April 8, 2018)

Bottom line: We need mercy because we have strayed from what's deepest in our hearts. In doing so we have hurt others and we have hurt God. The Me Too movement dramatized the moral law written in the human heart.

ThisThis weekend we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday. For many this is the conclusion of a nine day novena of prayer beginning on Good Friday. We have prayed, " Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world." We know that each of us and our entire world needs mercy. We feel a law written on our hearts and we have fallen short. Sometimes people think that Christians made up the idea of sin and have imposed guilt. But consider last year's Me Too movement. It didn't come from Christians. Deep down we know that we should treat each other not as means to our own gratification but that each has inner dignity. As someone said, we should use things and love people. Too often we love things and use people. That's wrong. We know it. The philosopher Emmanuel Kant called this the categorical imperative. Treat people as subjects not objects. As ends in themselves, not means to our own ends. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

We know this principle in our hearts, yet we violate it. With the Me Too movement we saw prominent people lose their jobs and politicians removed from office, yet no one wants to mention that three letter word beginning with "s." You know what I'm talking about: sin. If we're going to recover sanity we need to recognize sin, especially our own. Only then can we know the joy of the Gospel. Yes, I've been wronged and I have done wrong. I have sinned. If you are ready to acknowledge your sins, I have some good news for you. Jesus says, "Peace be with you. Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sin you forgive are forgiven them." This applies to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It also applies directly to our lives. Forgiveness is not cheap grace. It requires the openness to change, to personal transformation - and the willingness to forgive others. If we forgive one another, God will forgive us. As Jesus taught us: Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. We offer mercy because we long for mercy.

We thirst for mercy because we have become like a dry weary land without water. Regarding that desire for mercy, I've been thinking about Fr. Narciso Valencia and Sister Barbara. People were readily attracted to them. Why? Well, they were humble and accepting; at the same time they could call people to account. As Police and Fire Chaplain, Sister Barbara ministered not only to those in distress but officers and families. At her vigil one of them joked about how Sister was always supportive of those getting married and those having babies - in that order! She had a way of helping people who had fallen off the tracks. Some of the men told me how a word or look could steer them in the right direction. Fr. Valencia could do the same. Many told me how he helped them in confession. I experienced it myself. "Oh, Felipe," he would say but he channeled Jesus' healing mercy. We need mercy because we have strayed from what's deepest in our hearts. In doing so we have hurt others and we have hurt God. The Me Too movement dramatized the moral law written in the human heart. To violate that law is to sin. That's the diagnosis. We want more than a diagnosis; we want the cure. We see it on Divine Mercy Sunday. Peace be with you. Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sin you forgive are forgiven them. Amen.

Homily from Saint Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe, Pa
Saint Vincent Archabbey
2 Easter
Second Sunday of Easter, Classic
John 20: 19–31

Gospel Summary
The first thing that we notice in today's gospel is the amazing effect that the presence and words of Jesus have on his confused and frightened disciples. He finds them in hiding, completely immobilized by the terrible realization of the death of their beloved leader. He addresses them cheerfully with the standard greeting: "Peace." Under normal circumstances, this simply means that one wishes another well. But it means far more than that when spoken by the risen Lord. The disciples feel that the world is out of control. Jesus assures them that such is not the case. In fact, he is there to offer them the gift of deep and unshakable confidence. In spite of dire appearances, all is well. The reason that all is well is because Jesus now offers them the Spirit. This Holy Spirit has the ability to enter the deepest recesses of their being and to make Jesus more truly present to them than he ever was when they knew him in the flesh. Jesus offers the same Spirit to us also and this Spirit can make Jesus wonderfully present to us. For it is this same Spirit who convinces us of the love of God for us … and, to the extent that we know that, we have nothing to fear. We recall how God took his good spirit from King Saul and gave it to King David (1 Samuel 16: 13–14). The consequence was dramatic. Saul would slip deeper and deeper into darkness and despair, while David seemed to lead a charmed life in spite of sins and tragedies. In fact, he became the model of the Messiah and has been a favorite subject for sculptors and painters ever since. Thomas was not there to receive the Spirit and so he could not trust the good news that the other disciples shared with him. However, when he met Jesus later, everything changed and he allowed Jesus to become thenceforth the center of his life. The witness of others is always important, but nothing can replace a personal encounter with the Lord.

Life Implications
One One need not look far in our world today for attitudes of cynicism and distrust. We should avoid becoming gullible or naïve, of course, but we must at all cost learn how to trust. The risen Lord offers us his Spirit and, if we open our hearts to that best of all gifts, we will be able to trust when it is proper to do so. Most of all, we will trust God's promises, which tell us, in essence, that we can share in the life of Jesus if we dare to be kind and thoughtful and loving in a world that is too often thoughtless and cruel. We really cannot be trusting without the help of God, but with that help we can avoid the terrible pessimism of Saul and acquire the positive, hopeful spirit of David. This positive spirit is found everywhere in the Psalms, which have been attributed to David, not because he wrote more than a few of them, but because the authors of these beautiful prayers were all people like David. A special gift of the Spirit is the confidence and freedom that allows us to forgive others. Life is just too short for holding grudges or for nursing old injuries. And when we let go of these burdens we will enter more and more into the joy and generosity of the Spirit. In this way, we will not only be free to face the future with courage but we will also become much more pleasant fellow travelers for those who are making the journey with us. Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B.

Second Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday), Modern
Acts 4:32-35 John 20; 19-31

The Resurrection of Jesus transformed the world in ways that we will never fully comprehend. It was an act of pure and unconditional love of God for us, in which God embraced us and became one of us, suffered and died for our sake, and rose so that we too can share eternal life. Before the Resurrection the most devout lived in hope that the Messiah would come and free them from earthly oppression and bondage, but after the resurrection came the realization by the apostles, disciples and those who came to believe in Jesus that Jesus is the Messiah who gave us so much more; more than was ever imagined. Jesus, through his death and resurrection, gives us complete forgiveness of our sins and the gift of eternal life. The Apostles themselves did not understand who Jesus truly was until after the resurrection. In the Gospel account of the Transfiguration Jesus instructed Peter, James and John not to tell anyone until he had "risen from the dead" and we are told that they did not know what he meant. After the resurrection they began to understand the meaning of the experience on the mountain with Jesus, Moses and Elijah. Faith in Jesus brings us into the reality that for the faithful "life does not end, it merely changes." The resurrection of Jesus and how it changed the world was not easy to accept at first. The Gospel describes the disciples on that first Easter locked in the upper room in fear, as if in a tomb. Jesus enters the room despite the locked doors and stands in their midst. He greets them with words of peace and it seems that they are overwhelmed by his presence.

When the absent Thomas arrives afterwards, they can't wait to tell him that Jesus is truly risen and that he had visited them in this upper room. We are all too familiar with response that resulted with Thomas being forever known as "doubting Thomas." A week later they are still in the upper room and the doors are still locked. This room has truly become their tomb. They are still in fear and afraid to go out even after the experience of seeing the Risen Lord. Jesus appears again and takes Thomas on the words he spoke to the rest of the disciples a week earlier, and invites him to put his hands in the wounds. Thomas has seen enough and he then makes a profession of faith. The disciples experienced the reality of the love and mercy of our Risen Lord, and were able to leave fear behind and venture out of the upper room. During the Easter Season we are called to leave fear behind and to allow the love of our Risen Lord more deeply in our lives. The Risen Lord loves us and there is no reason for us to lock ourselves in our own tombs of fear. This Sunday is also known as Divine Mercy Sunday so as to reinforce the reality of the depth of God's love for us. A love that is far greater than any fault, failing or sin that we have. His mercy is His gift to us and he is just waiting for us to accept this gift, to unwrap it and allow it to fill us with his mercy, love and peace. During Easter let us welcome the Lord and allow him to away our fears and fill us with his peace. May we continue to joyously proclaim, "Alleluia!" as a response to the gift of God's mercy and love. Father Killian Loch, O.S.B.

The Annunciation, Modern
Lectionary 545

We celebrate the feast of the Annunciation on an unusual date this year, owing to the date of Easter. We are accustomed to marking the appearance of the angel Gabriel to Mary on March 25th, but this year Palm Sunday falls on that date. Since Palm Sunday forms an intimate part of the Paschal mystery of Christ's death and resurrection and is the launching point for Holy Week it has a greater place in the Church's worship than the Annunciation, and so the Annunciation is moved to the nearest date after the Octave of Easter, which in 2018 happens to be April 9th. The Church in no way shows a lack of respect for Mary by doing this; on the contrary we focus on the mystery of Christ in all of our liturgical commemorations, and by marking the Annunciation—the moment of the incarnation of Christ—so closely after Easter we highlight the bond between the two feasts and the union between the Church's reverence for Mary and its worship of Christ.

To better understand this we might consider that the events which are marked by the feast of the Annunciation and those remembered during Holy Week and the Easter season are all part of the same mystery of Christ's person. The Annunciation marks the moment when the God's "Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us" (John 1:14) in the womb of the Virgin Mary. This is indeed something extraordinary to celebrate since, as our Church has long taught, "human nature as [Christ] assumed it was not annulled, by that very fact it has been raised up to a divine dignity in our respect too." This means that "by His incarnation the Son of God has united Himself in some fashion with every man. He worked with human hands, He thought with a human mind, acted by human choice and loved with a human heart. Born of the Virgin Mary, He has truly been made one of us, like us in all things except sin" (Gaudium et Spes 22).

Holy Week and the Easter season, for their part, re-present liturgically the culmination of Christ's earthly life. In the process they teach us that the mystery of his person which begins to unfold for us through the Annunciation and incarnation comes to its fullness in the events of his passion, death, and glorious resurrection. In a certain way the prophet Isaiah anticipates this mystery of God uniting with humanity, as we hear in today's first reading: "the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel, which means ‘God is with us!'" (Isa 7:14; 8:10). Emmanuel, "God is with us," is the name of the awaited messiah of Israel, and represents his sharing in our human joys and sorrows.

The union of divinity and humanity forecast by Isaiah is then recognized by the archangel Gabriel in the Gospel when he says to Mary: "the child born to you will be called holy, the Son of God" (Luke 1:35). To bring our celebration of the Annunciation during the Easter season full circle we note that the opening prayer for mass today offers a reminder of how we will one day share in the union of divinity and humanity prophesied by Isaiah, recognized within the Virgin Mary, and seen perfectly in Jesus Christ. We pray: "O God, who willed that your Word should take on the reality of human flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary, grant that we, who confess our Redeemer to be God and man, may merit to become partakers even in his divine nature." On this joyful feast of Mary let us remember that her glory is her son Jesus Christ and she ever-faithfully leads us to participate in his divine life.
Father Edward Mazich, O.S.B.

Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS
2 Easter

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