19Apr 19 April, 2020. 2nd Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday)

1st Reading: Acts 2:42-47

As a sign of their faith the early Christians shared their possessions

[The community of believers] devoted themselves to the apostles” teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

Responsorial: Psalm 117: 2-4, 13-15, 22-24

Response: Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love is everlasting

Let the sons of Israel say:
‘His love has no end.’
Let the sons of Aaron say:
‘His love has no end.’
Let those who fear the Lord say:
‘His love has no end.’

I was thrust, thrust down
and falling but the Lord was my helper.
The Lord is my strength and my song;
he was my saviour.
There are shouts of joy and victory
in the tents of the just.

The stone which the builders rejected
has become the corner stone.
This is the work of the Lord,
a marvel in our eyes.
This day was made by the Lord;
we rejoice and are glad.

2nd Reading: 1 Peter 1:3-9

Christians respond to his resurrection with hope, praise and joy

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith-being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire-may be found to result in praise and glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Gospel: John 20:19-31

The presence of the risen Jesus dispels fear and brings peace to his friends

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.


During the Global Pandemic, O Lord, may your words be on our lips, and in our hearts. May they give us courage and hope – and draw us nearer to you..

Helped by a doubting apostle

The expression “Doubting Thomas” comes from this remarkable Easter story. The apostle Thomas, one of Jesus’s inner circle, was slow to believe in the resurection. He demanded concrete evidence before he could believe that the risen Jesus had appeared to his fellow apostles. His story offers some comfort to those of us who are always nagged by doubts. With the memory of our Lord’s crucifixion fresh in their hearts, the nervous disciples had locked the doors of their meeting room.

They had locked themselves for fear of Jewish reprisals. They were afraid that what was done to Jesus could be done to them. The turning point came when Jesus appeared among them and breathed the Holy Spirit into them, filling them with new purpose. “As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.” In the power of the Spirit they left their self-imposed prison, to go out and spread the message of Jesus. In today’s reading from Acts St Luke shows them witnessing to the resurrection both in word and by the quality of their living.

Some people who cannot believe profess to envy those who do. They would like to experience the certainty of believers and share the faith of their parents. And indeed, most ordinary mortals have moments of doubt during our spiritual journey. Thomas’s recovery from his doubts offers a valuable insight into God’s mercy and kindness.

Are we sometimes like those disciples, indecisive, inactive, unwilling to promote the faith. The “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” have dented our confidence. Are we tempted to abandon our faith journey, unable to see a way forward? Our past failures make us hesitant to try again. Today’s gospel offers a solution. The Lord himself has power to revive our courage and our faith. No locked doors, nor even locked hearts, can keep him out.

At first, Thomas refused to believe that the others had seen him. He demanded definite and demonstrable, tangible proof. Jesus gave him the proof he needed. “Put your finger here,” he said, “and feel my wounds.” He forgives our fears and doubts too, and offers us a fresh start. We need to say in our turn, “My Lord and my God.

Here in our Sunday Mass we meet with the risen Christ, just as St Thomas did. Sharing in the Eucharist is our statement of loyalty, our act of personal and shared faith. In praying the Eucharist together we help each other’s faith and strengthen our Christian community. It was because the members of the early Church in Jerusalem met in public for prayer and seemed such a joyful little community, that so many others came to believe and the church grew steadily in those early, Spirit-filled days.

Aithne phearsanta agus aithris ar Íosa Chríost.

Don eaglais i ngach aois, tá Íosa i ngar – níos gaire ná an doras – ag tabhairt sóláis, misnigh agus spreagtha. Meabhraíonn an chéad léacht dúinn faoi mar a mhair an eaglais óg faoi shimplíocht chroí, ag caitheamh a gcuid bia faoi áthas. Agus is mar seo a labhair Peadar faoi Íosa ina litir dósan a bhí ag fulaingt ar son a gcreidimh i gCríost, sa dara léacht: “Thug sibh grá dó, cé nach bhfaca sibh é.” Is cuid dílis den den crideamh aithne phearsanta agus aithris ar Íosa Chríost.
(Máirtín Mac Conmara: Machnamh)

6 Responses

  1. Seamus Ahearne

    That was the week that was. It passed us by. We were observers rather than participants. We felt abandoned. It happened without us. The Emmaus journey. Our journey. Hearts burning. Recognition. At the Table. It was the food and the company. And then the story at the sea shore. He went to where they had naturally gone: The familiar. Back to what they were used to doing. The onetime carpenter told the fishermen how to fish. He provided a Fish Supper for breakfast in case they caught nothing. He had been to the nearest Chipper. Obviously the Chipper opened early. More food. He appears in strange places. Miracles can happen. The impossible is possible. If we could only look and see.

    This weekend had a name before it was hijacked by Divine Mercy. I rather preferred the previous name: Low Sunday. Or Sunday in Albis. Augustine describes this weekend with a flourish. (He usually overindulges in words). The newly Baptised come to show off and to be shown off. They are dressed up in their best. “Little ones in Christ. Flower of our honour. My joy and my crown. Sacrament of new life.” (Office of Readings). The new Christians now were challenged to take off their celebratory clothes and to put on their working clothes. To go out now and live what they had become.

    The Gospel suggests that the disciples were cocooned or self-isolating. They were ‘socially distancing’ from the outside world. They were afraid. They had a visitor. He gave them the ‘kiss of life.’ But Thomas was absent. He wasn’t impressed by their emotional story on his return. He felt that they were hallucinating. And then the visitor came back. Thomas was convinced this time. It is easy and cheap to dismiss Thomas and call him Doubting Thomas. He was the one who went out. He was the one who didn’t mope around in fear. He got on with life. He raised questions. He is our example and our hero. He questions the stories. He is brave. He is real. He is indeed our brother and our companion. He is a model for our time. The hideaway ones, who are afraid, are not impressive. Our Church needs us, to take our inspiration from Thomas. In the days to come, when we are allowed emerge; we must be brave and bold. There is no place to hide. Like Augustine’s new Christians; we have to put on our working clothes (no moping about), go out there and create a new world. We must use our creative energy where it is now needed. Our place as ministers will have changed utterly. A ‘terrible’ beauty is born. (We do hope).
    Seamus Ahearne osa

  2. Seamus Ahearne

    This morning (Sunday) John Bowman presented ‘Voices from the Archives’ (RTE Radio 1 at 8.30). It featured the First Listowel Writers’ week. John B Keane and Bryan McMahon were the main characters. It was delightful and an ideal ‘Starter’ for Eucharist. It was Revelation. It opened up hearts and minds. The Thomas of the Gospel was alive in Listowel. (Their writings live on). Such people are the Ministers of Gospel and Humanity. They become the Thomas of a new Evangelisation. This is Church. This is Ministry. This is life. Seamus Ahearne osa

  3. Paddy Ferry

    “When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.””

    I have always had a problem with that. The doors locked so how did he get in.

    Likewise, why did they not recognise him on the road to Emmaus?

  4. Pádraig McCarthy

    #3 Paddy:
    If the gospel were written to offer answers to questions of philosophy or theology or physics, the writer might perhaps have put it something like this: “Jesus, having died on Friday, was clearly encountered in a mysterious transformed state by his disciples on Sunday.”
    But that was not the purpose of the writing of the gospel. Rather, it was: “But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.”
    In the upper room and on the road to Emmaus, yes, there was an encounter with Jesus, who was transformed in a way beyond the words and understanding of the disciples; and the result was that the disciples in each case were transformed! Putting what is beyond words into the form of the story in each case conveys in a vivid and very memorable manner that the disciples did indeed come to believe that Jesus is the one Anointed, and that in this experienced new life in his name – “name” here means not so much the name-label by which Jesus was known, but the innermost being of Jesus. Story is an ancient and still powerful way to communicate n experience which, if stated without story, would be far less striking, and much more difficult to convey then to others.
    I’m not implying that these episodes did not occur. I’m saying what the purpose was for the telling of the stories, and this is what is uppermost.
    The stories are told with quiet humour. We have the contradiction of Jesus, betrayed by his closest friends, taking them by surprise and greeting them not with reprimand but with peace. Jesus says: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” As if he was saying: “You have a choice!” But we know very well what it is he wants of them. Why else would he breathe on them (as God did at creation) the Holy Spirit whom Jesus breathed forth on the cross?
    And plain, blunt Thomas. WYSIWYG: What you see is what you get. And then he puts into words more eloquent than the others would have found: My Lord and my God!
    On the road to Emmaus, we have two disciples explaining what had happened, to the very one to whom it had happened! And then they recognise him at the breaking of bread, as we are called to do. Then what do they do? They had finished their journey for the day. But now they are transformed and set out right back the full journey they had just come. They are transformed, and they don’t just sit back to discuss it. They take to the Way. Metanoia at its best. Bread broken for the life of the world.

  5. Paddy Ferry

    Thanks, Padraig.

  6. Joe O'Leary

    How is the Risen Christ present to us?

    Is his presence mostly an absence, like that of friends we no longer see, or can no longer see since they are no longer alive? Those invisible presences are summoned up in the mode of longing, but they are not richly and warmly present in their flesh and blood, ‘to have and to hold.’

    At least we can say of them that we have seen them once, even if we can see them no longer, and we can be grateful to have known them, and think over their beautiful qualities, perhaps appreciating them more than when they were near.

    But in the case of the risen Christ we ‘have not seen him’; he was always invisible, intangible. “Although you have not seen him (past tense), you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:8-9) “Blessed are those who have not seen (past tense)” (John 20:29).

    So we depend on the witnesses (Paul is the only direct one) and on the witness to the witnesses (Luke in Acts 10:41 recounting that Peter claimed “we ate and drank with him after his resurrection from the dead”).

    So is the risen Presence just a desired and imagined one?

    Well, missed human presences become real and warm not though intenser imaginings but through the return of the beloved: so the presence of Christ depends not on us but on the grace of His returning. He returns not only in the quiet of the heart:

    How fresh, oh Lord, how sweet and clean
    Are thy returns! even as the flowers in spring;
    To which, besides their own demean,
    The late-past frosts tributes of pleasure bring.
    Grief melts away
    Like snow in May,
    As if there were no such cold thing.

    Who would have thought my shriveled heart
    Could have recovered greenness? It was gone
    Quite underground; as flowers depart
    To see their mother-root, when they have blown,
    Where they together
    All the hard weather,
    Dead to the world, keep house unknown.

    These are thy wonders, Lord of power,
    Killing and quickening, bringing down to hell
    And up to heaven in an hour;
    Making a chiming of a passing-bell.
    We say amiss
    This or that is:
    Thy word is all, if we could spell. (George Herbert)

    But he returns above all in the liturgy (if we do not meet him there, do we meet him anywhere?).

    The Psalmist mourning the divine absence remembers with nostalgia the joyful liturgies of the people: “these things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I went with the throng and led them in procession to the house of God, with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival” (Ps 42:4); “then you will delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar” (Ps 51:19).

    God grant us all the quiet confidence of 1 Peter 1:3: “By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”

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