Homily for Divine Sunday

Divine Mercy image

For today’s second Sunday of Easter which we celebrate as Divine Mercy Sunday, we’ve got a very interesting reading and an even more interesting picture of the Apostles. It is hard to believe that this is the same group of Jesus’ disciples who – in some way – had already experienced Jesus’ Resurrection, because – as we heard a week ago – the women told them straight away about the empty tomb. So, the apostles had already witnessed the joy and astonishment on the faces of many people. However, we just heard that the door to the Upper Room was still locked and the hearts of the disciples were still very frightened.

One of the most important heroes of this gospel is, of course, Thomas. Maybe we do not have the best associations with this apostle of Jesus. Perhaps we do not sympathize with this particular disciple very much. Maybe many of us would like to judge Thomas, perhaps even more harshly than we would criticize Judas for his betrayal. But today let’s try at least to discover a slightly different picture of him. From the very beginning of his friendship with Jesus, Thomas was very delighted and excited with Jesus’ teaching. We can easily imagine that Jesus very quickly became the meaning of his life

Therefore, we too – for many reasons – can understand the attitude and behaviour of this one disciple of Jesus who, after the death of his Master felt very overwhelmed, disappointed and at all costs wanted to see any evidence that Jesus was alive. He wanted to check, touch and see the wounds of his Master. As we heard in the gospel, Jesus answered his request, but then Thomas – perhaps frightened by the sight of Jesus – unexpectedly changed his mind and did not take this opportunity to touch his side.

Why today, on the second Sunday after Easter, we focus our attention so much on the figure of Thomas? First of all, it seems to me that this figure is very close to many of us. Why? I think that each of us – every day, perhaps once a week, sometimes only once a month or maybe less often – but each of us asks ourselves various questions about faith, and – if our faith is something really important to us – we try to answer these questions in different ways.

When I read and pondered this gospel a few days ago, I was wondering why Thomas was looking for an answer to his questions and dilemmas outside the Upper Room in solitude, and why he decided to leave the community of his friends that is the other Apostles. I don’t think loneliness was the best way and solution to deal with any hardships and dilemmas. And I think that it can be similar in our lives. When we experience difficult moments and when at times, we ask ourselves various questions about faith: Where is God? Is he really alive and really present in the signs of bread and wine when we gather in the church to celebrate the Eucharist? Can I really experience Him in my life that seems so monotonous and boring? Very often in such moments – just like the overwhelmed Thomas from today’s gospel, we move away from our community, we leave our friends and we choose loneliness. Today’s gospel wants to tell us that it is always best staying in the community of our brothers and sisters in faith, in the community of the Church, because only there our patience can be finally rewarded, we can meet the living and real Jesus, even if sometimes we have to wait for a long time for His coming.

Today is also the Feast of Divine Mercy, which we celebrate in the Church for the 21st time. Perhaps some of us remember the beginning of this feast and the famous pilgrimage of Saint Pope John Paul II to Krakow, when the Pope had established the second Sunday of Easter as the Feast of Divine Mercy. Perhaps at least some of us have read the diary of Saint Sister Faustina, which has been translated into many languages ​​and it became the most-popular book in the world, right after the Bible.

As a priest who grew up in Poland – in the shadow of God’s Mercy, Sister Faustina and John Paul II – I could share with you a lot about this particular quality of God which is his infinite mercy and forgiveness. If you have read Sister Faustina’s Diary – in which she described all her encounters, revelations and dialogues with Jesus – if you know this very interesting and unusual book, you know that some of the revelations took place in Plock, in the town where I lived and studied for 6 years in my Seminary. And it was exactly the same town where 80 years ago Jesus said to her: Paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the signature: Jesus I Trust in You. I desire that this image be venerated, first in your chapel, and throughout the whole world.

I have been always very grateful to God, because very often during my studies I had the opportunity to visit this holy place. I had the privilege to visit this chapel frequently for private prayers and imagined young Faustina – a simple, humble and uneducated religious sister who was working very hard looking after the kitchen and baking bread – as it was her daily routine in the convent. Today we honour her as a great saint or – as we often say – as the secretary of God’s mercy. She is also a patron of our local Syro-Malabar community which will be looked after by Father Ebin, our new priest in Kettering. Today we welcome him to our parish with great joy and wish him to become a credible witness of God’s mercy in our communities. May Sister Faustina look after both the Syro-Malabar community and Father Ebin as well, and may she intercede for all of us in heaven.

Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion – inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself.

Amen.

 Fr Gregory