YEAR C: HOMILY FOR DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY
TOPIC: THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS
BY: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
Gospel: Jn 20:19 – 31 (The Appearance to the Disciples)
HOMILY FOR DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY 2022
- The Marian Message
a) The resurrection is an historical fact. But until now, there are still many people who do not believe in it. There are still many people who cannot accept the truth that Jesus is God. But the truth of His resurrection is historically proven by the testimonies of key witnesses.
b) Mary reveals that she is the first and silent witness to the resurrection (letter c). Jesus appeared first to her before appearing to the pious women and the disciples. This is the reason why she did not anymore accompany the pious women in going to the tomb, for she has already encountered the Risen Lord. This is supported by the testimonies of several mystics. But she is a “silent witness” since it is not her task to spread this “divine prodigy”.
c) The task of Mary is to sustain and increase the faith of those who believed in Jesus (letter d). This she did in silence. She was silent during His hidden years in Nazareth, during His public ministry, and also during His resurrection.
d) There are still many people who deny or doubt the resurrection. She calls on all of us to proclaim and defend the truth of the resurrection of Jesus, the proof that He is God, and that He is victorious over sin and death (letters h, i and j). In Jesus, we have sure victory and salvation. We also proclaim that He will come again on the last day (letter l).
- Some Important Information
a) The name “Easter” comes from Eostre, the goddess of Spring. Easter is rightly associated with the season of Spring. Jesus died and was buried. But on the third day He rose again. The same is true with nature. During winter, everything is dead. But in spring, all plants are back to life.
b) The second Sunday of Easter is also the celebration of the Feast of Divine Mercy. This is Divine Mercy Sunday. The Novena to the Divine Mercy started last Good Friday. The overflowing mercy of God for all sinners was shown by Jesus’ death on the cross where blood and water flowed from His wounded side. That is why three o’clock in the afternoon is the hour of mercy. When we start the novena of Divine Mercy on Good Friday, we finish it on Saturday of the succeeding week. The next day, Sunday, is the Feast of Divine Mercy. Plenary Indulgence is promised by the Lord to be given to those who do this novena. This is according to the revelation from Jesus received by Saint Faustina.
c) Other Easter symbolisms: – Easter Eggs – there is life inside the shell. When the right time comes, the chick breaks the shell and comes out. This is what happened to Jesus. He was in the tomb for 3 days. Then on the third day, He breaks the shell of the tomb to rise up triumphantly. The eggs, which are distributed or hunted by the children are of diverse colors. This symbolizes that the new life that Jesus is offering us with His resurrection is a truly colorful and infinitely joyful life. Along this line, a cocoon could as well be a good symbol. It gives way to a totally new life, a beautiful butterfly. But it has not been popularly used as an Easter symbol, probably because the caterpillar inside the cocoon does not look nice. – the Sphinx – this is an ancient mythological symbol, half-man and half-horse. It is used as a symbol of Easter because it is believed to come from ashes and is said to be immortal. Jesus rose from the dead, literally coming out of the ashes of death, and from then on, He cannot die anymore – eternal life. – Easter bunny – the rabbit has been the symbol of fertility and fecundity. It is the most prolific animal. Easter is about new life. A rabbit always reminds us of births and new life being born into the world. Easter reminds us of new life being born into the eternal Kingdom. (Balloons are not one of the Easter symbols.)
d) “Salubong” or “Encuentro” is a celebration related to Easter, which is peculiar to the Philippines only. It is not known in the other parts of the world, except perhaps in some Hispanic cultures (most likely Mexico). It is not really essential to the Easter celebration. Before, it was only considered as a paraliturgy. Lately, however, it has become liturgical when the Philippine Bishops decided to incorporate it into the celebration of the Easter Sunday Dawn Mass (the first Easter Sunday Mass). Liturgically, it is done at dawn. The procession is the start of the dawn Mass of Easter Sunday. When the procession reaches the Church, the Mass continues with the singing of the Gloria. In some parishes, where it is difficult to gather the people at early dawn, it is done right after the Easter Vigil. That means before midnight. This is not anymore liturgically accurate because according to the Gospels, the pious women who were the first to learn about the resurrection of Jesus went to the tomb “early in the morning”. But this is somehow allowed in such parishes “for pastoral reasons”.
- The Sunday Gospel The Gospel for this second Sunday of Easter gives us 5 important truths:
a) Peace – The death of Jesus threw the disciples into panic. Except for John, all the apostles went into hiding for fear of the Jews. They did not know what to do. Their dreams were shattered. But Jesus appeared to them, giving them assurance: “Peace be with you!” Jesus alone can give us true peace. We may have all the riches and power in the world. But if Jesus is not with us, we will never have peace. There are many rich and powerful people who end up committing suicide. When Jesus is with us, we have peace; we have nothing to fear, for He is our strength and secure protection.
b) Forgiveness – the Gospel account this Sunday mentions about the sacrament of Reconciliation: “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” Forgiveness of sins through Jesus in the sacrament of Reconciliation brings about peace on three levels: peace with our own selves (“peace of mind”), peace with others, and peace with God. During Easter, when presumably everybody went to confession, we can sense some kind of peace that pervades in our midst.
c) Holy Spirit – “Jesus said to them, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me so I send you.’ Then he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’.” The Holy Spirit is the life-giving breath of God (cf Gen 2:7, and Ezekiel 37). This is John’s version of Pentecost. The new spiritual life of the disciples comes from Jesus.
d) Faith – the Apostle Thomas doubted. He wanted a concrete proof of the resurrected Jesus. His faith was weak because he was away from the group (Church) when Jesus appeared to the disciples for the first time. When Jesus appeared again, Thomas was reprimanded by the Lord. But this was the occasion when Thomas expressed a very profound confession of faith: “My Lord and my God!” And Jesus gives us this lesson: “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” A strong faith does not need proofs. Those who are still looking for proofs have weak faith. We should not ask for a miracle in order to have faith. Rather, we believe first, and a miracle is sure to come.
e) Scriptures – in the last two verses of the Gospel account, St. John mentions two things about the Scriptures. First, not everything that Jesus did is recorded. There are many other things that Jesus said and did which are not in Scriptures, but handed down orally from one generation to another. This is called Sacred Tradition. In fact, Sacred Scriptures came later and is based on Sacred Tradition. Bible-based Christian sects adhere to their conviction that we must not believe anything that is not found in the Bible. They are terribly mistaken. Second, the purpose of Scriptures is to have faith in Jesus: “But these were written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in His name.” There could be some mention of historical and cultural facts in the Scriptures, but they may not be accurate since these are not its primary intent. This was the unfortunate mistake that happened to Galileo. He challenged the Biblical belief that the sun revolves around the earth. He pursued the Copernican theory over the Biblical belief on this matter. The Bible could be mistaken about some scientific and historical facts; but it could not be mistaken about matters of faith and morals.
- Think About This
The Resurrection of Jesus is the most important truth on which all other truths about Jesus and His teachings are based. This proves that Jesus is true God, and His teachings are all true. St. Paul said: “If Jesus was not raised from the dead, vain is our faith.” For Christians, therefore, this is the most important feast of all. If Jesus did not rise again, what is the value of Christmas? We have a grand celebration on Christmas simply because it is the birth of Jesus. It has become an important celebration because we know that the one who was born is God-made-man, and the way we came to know He is God is the fact of His resurrection. This goes the same with the other feasts and celebrations we have as Christians: everything is based on the truth of the resurrection. It is a pity that we do not celebrate Easter as merrily as we do Christmas. As Christians, we are an Easter people, not Christmas people. Yet we do not sufficiently express this in our cultural and social life. Let us think of ways and means to make Easter the most meaningful and special celebration of the year.
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