Second Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday) – 19 April 2020
Lectionary Readings: Acts 2:42-47; Ps 118:2-4.13-15.22-24; 1 Pet 1:3-9; John 20:19-31
Theme: There is something more
Pope Saint John Paul II declared the second Sunday after Easter to be Divine Mercy Sunday on 30 April 2000, the day Faustina Kowalska was canonized. The readings of today might not categorically reflect mercy, but they present another form of mercy or compassion. Let us see the connection between the readings of today with the call to us to be merciful in the midst of this health crisis – the COVID-19 pandemic.
The actions of the followers of Jesus in our first reading exemplify cheerfulness through fellowship. In the second reading, Paul commends the community for keeping their faith in the midst of trials and difficulties; they are an example for us of hope truly alive. The gospel for today is often seen in the light of belief/disbelief where Thomas’ doubting is highlighted. However, there is something more than the “doubt” overtone interpretation in the gospel. Often what is not seen is the compassion of Jesus towards his disciples who are utterly distraught in their loss. I suppose this is the reason that Jesus entered their place that was on “lockdown” and uttered the words that they all needed at that time of crisis – “peace be with you.” Indeed, Thomas showed disbelief, but was this not too as a result of his frustration and loss? He wanted answers, but no one could satisfactorily provide them. Hence, what he seems to project is stubbornness, arrogance and disbelief, yet deep down he was also scared just as the rest of them were before the appearance of Jesus. They just needed a little light, a glimpse of hope and assurance that there was something beyond the closed door. Jesus indeed saw their hearts; hence he gave them what this world cannot give, which are peace and hope, in spite of their trials and challenges. He gave them the means to overcome the fear that held them from seeing the most essential in life. When Jesus showed himself to his disciples, his greeting was of that of peace and he showed them his wounds. His action seems to show that though he was wounded, he chose the better part, going beyond the wounds and pain of being deserted by his friends. Jesus beyond death has chosen compassion by giving peace to his friends. Yes, the marks of pain remain, but these same marks are also signs that he chose (according to his Father’s will) to overcome sin and death with life, which he then shared with his friends and through them as his witnesses, with us.
What do the readings say to us today in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic? We see that we can go beyond this crisis, not by hoarding or selfishness, fear and hate. This is an opportune time to show the humanity that God created before sin. It is time to show and sow care for our neighbors and to revive the almost dying empathy in our souls. Just like Jesus, let us consciously choose compassion through community; the breaking of bread with our brothers and sisters in Christ; and cheerfulness in giving. If we show the mercy of Christ, those who are in the dark tomb will experience the light and life of the Resurrection. Shalom!
For Reflection and Discussion: 1. How do you show compassion in this trying time of the COVID-19 pandemic? 2. In what way can we find solace and peace when the world is in panic and there is isolation because of this unprecedented health crisis going all over the world, in our communities, our neighborhoods, in our families and within ourselves?