April 19, 2020 – Second Sunday of Easter: Divine Mercy Sunday
Click here for the readings (http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/041920.cfm)
Homily shared by Fr. Mar Masangcay, CSsR
A young man once said, “I will never believe until I have an experience of Jesus Christ.” But a Catholic missionary replied, “Unless you believe, you will never experience Jesus in His Church”.
Nowadays, it is not easy for us to believe. We ask usually for signs, proofs or evidence in order to trust somebody. We need some credentials in order for us to believe someone. We say: “To see is to believe.” Many times we claim, “We will never believe until we see it”. Others would say, “Show me the money first before I trust you”. Like Thomas in our Gospel today, we say: “Unless there are evidences (see and touch the nail marks on the Lord’s sides), I will not believe”.
The opposite of Faith is doubt. Doubt has indeed been a great stumbling block or hindrance in the growth of our Christian faith. Even Jesus had difficulty in preaching the Good News because of the people’s doubt and unbelief. And the same doubt and unbelief have caused the Lords’ suffering, crucifixion and death.
Usually we doubt by certain truths in our life because they are beyond our comprehension. Because we don’t understand them – they don’t make sense- that we doubt if what is presented before us is really true and sincere. That is why, many at times in life, we struggle to find God in our signs and evidences, in our darkness and loneliness, in our comprehension and understanding that usually leads us nowhere but doubt and unbelief. But actually doubt and unbelief happen whenever and because we are just asleep – not aware or not awake and present enough to recognize what has been presented right before us.
This is what Jesus is trying to reveal and teach his apostles then and us now in our Gospel today: Be Present in order to Believe. Believe in order to be in His Presence.
As the community of disciples hid themselves asleep in fear for the authority, in shame for abandoning their master, and in hopelessness and defeat for the death of the Lord, Jesus, now the Risen Lord came and shown Himself to them, saying: “Peace Be with you”. Take note, Jesus appeared and presented Himself – make Himself known to them, in order to tell them: “Do Not be unbelieving, but Believe”, that is to wake them up from doubt, and to wake up their faith in Him again. The Risen Lord thus presents Himself before and in the Church to wake up our Faith in Him anew so that we may experience God’s glory being offered to us once again.
And He continues to reveal Himself again and always to us in our Church and whenever we are present in our Christian faith-community. Remember, Thomas doubted the risen Lord because he was absent – not there but somewhere else – when the Lord revealed Himself for the first time. So also whenever we are absent with ourselves and with our community, we don’t experience and don’t believe Easter. But whenever we are present with ourselves and our community, we experience and believe in the Resurrection of our Lord.
“Believe the Gospel, believe in Him, Believe in Jesus Christ” has always been the core message of the Gospel. For us to always experience the Good News of God’s glory in our lives, all we are asked to do is not to look for evidences, signs or proofs but just to believe in Him who reveals Himself right before and in us, our community of faith. Without faith, we cannot comprehend and benefit from the greatness of God’s graces offered and can offer us now by the Risen Lord, as he makes Himself present in our church and community.
As Joan Chittister, a known lady-theologian once said: “It takes a lifetime to really understand that God is in what is standing in front of us. Most of our lives are spent looking, straining to see the God in the cloud, behind the mist, beyond the dark. It is when we face God in one another, in creation, in the moment that the real spiritual journey begins”. Very true, indeed. We do tend to look for something else while searching for God who is already right before and in front of us. In other words, Easter – the Lord’s resurrection only happens, makes sense and becomes meaningful to us, if and when we are present enough to acknowledge and believe in the Risen Lord as He reveals to us face to face, in front of us, in our Church, our community of believers.So, Don’t doubt but Believe the Gospel being and yet to appear to us in our community of faith. May we present as the Lord is present in our Christian Church even in the midst of our social distancing world. So be it. Amen.