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April 12, 2015 - Divine Mercy Sunday

The busy Lent and Easter celebrations have gone.  The quietness of the church has returned, except funerals!  The old saints just want to be with the Risen Lord!  Alleluia, the Lord is Risen.  The Risen Lord is correctly called the God of the Second Chance. On Easter Sunday, the Lord signaled the apostles even though they had turned their backs on Him, He would not follow suit. This week he dealt with the doubter, Thomas.

The followers of Jesus continued to meet after the Resurrection in the Upper Room.  Since it was owned by a friend, maybe there was no rental charge. It was a good thing though because they were broke since Judas took all the money with him.  Check it out that John is anxious for us to know that it was the first day of the week. If you play detective, you will discover that "the first day of the week" is mentioned in the New Testament a remarkable seven times within the Resurrection story.

These early Christ’s followers wanted us to understand that Sunday had already become the Lord's Day. So our gathering at Liturgy on Sundays as a Jesus community is no accident. We have taken our cue from the apostles. The disciples were sitting about relaxing and exchanging rumors. Perhaps they had just finished celebrating the Eucharist. Their Easter dinner would be home baked bread and fish just caught from the lake (again Judas Iscariot was the guilty one since he threw 30 pieces of silver back to the chief priests, the apostles could not even buy Vietnamese take-out). Suddenly the risen Lord burst into their company. Surely several of them fell off their chairs. One or two others must have clutched their hearts and searched for their medication if they ever had.  They might think that a ghost had appeared in daylight!  Then Jesus began with a formal greeting: Peace be with you.

His "Peace be with you!" had much more impact than our colorless "Have a nice day." A free translation would mean, "May God give you every wonderful good!"

Thomas, the twin, had expected the assassination of Jesus from day one. Recall the time the Christ had proposed going to Bethany to raise Lazarus from death, where the Temple police had a search warrant for Him. Eleven of the apostles ran scared and asked politely for a rain-check. Thomas shamed them all for being cowards by saying, "Let us all go that we may die with Him” (Jn 11: 16). Thomas was an early Rambo, but he also was a negative man.

His faith told him it would be better to die with Jesus than live without Him. But his unbelief told him that once the Teacher died, He would remain dead and become a rotting corpse.   For many of us, Thomas is our main man. Belief and doubt have the nasty habit of co-existing uncomfortably in our honorable selves. If that is your problem, stay loose, you are in the best company. All of us are a mixture of fear and doubt, pessimism and trust, belief and unbelief. That's difficult because we have such a hankering for certainty.

When Jesus first appeared, Thomas was absent. Perhaps he was out looking for a job since he was a carpenter likehis Master. Maybe he was even getting drunk! You know we drink when we are in sorrow! When his fellow apostles reported they had seen the risen Lord, he assumed they were hallucinating.    Thomas did not say he could not believe but rather that he was not able to believe without physical proof. So relax, "You are not the first to say, “I believe only what I see.”   Thomas of the Gospel was the last person on the block to believe in the Resurrection. But he was the first in the world to profess absolute belief in the divinity of the risen Savior. The cry "My Lord and my God" that came out of his soul still reverberates down through the centuries. It is the most famous thirty second bite in history.

The Twin Thomas began that second Easter Sunday by asking for a touch of Jesus as man and friend. But, when he pulled back his hand, he realized that he was in touch with God Himself. Thomas was blown away by this experience. He would never be the same man again. The Master forgave the apostles for being invisible on Good Friday. He absolved Thomas for his disbelief. All of us have seriously sinned. After studying this Gospel, do you believe that the Resurrected Jesus will also give you a second chance? Why not then give yourself a second chance?

Thomas missed the first appearance of the Lord because he left the community of disciples on the First day of the week.  I saw many that just came back at Easter after a long absence, would you consider to be back every “First Day of the Week” to encounter the Risen Lord in the Eucharist?  The Lord always gives us a second chance, but we have to be available for that chance.