Acts 2: 42- 47, I Peter 1: 3-9, John 20: 19-31
St. Faustina of Poland is the well-known apostle of Divine Mercy. On the 30th of April, 2000, at 10:00 AM on the Second Sunday of Easter His Holiness Pope St. John Paul II celebrated the Eucharist in Saint Peter’s Square and proceeded to the canonization of Blessed Sister Faustina. What a coincidence! John Paul himself would be canonized on this same Feast Day – April 27 in 2014 – by Pope Francis.
The Pope John Paul II held the hand of Mehmet Ali Agca that had held the gun whose bullet tore into the Pope body when he visited him in the prison. The pope had been preaching forgiveness and reconciliation constantly. His deed with Ali Agca spoke a thousand words. John Paul’s forgiveness was deeply Christian. He embraced his enemy and pardoned him. At the end of their 20-minute meeting, Ali Agca raised the pope’s hand to his forehead as a sign of respect. John Paul shook Ali Agca’s hand tenderly. This was a living icon of mercy. This is an example of God’s Divine Mercy, the same Divine Mercy whose message St. Faustina witnessed.
The readings for this Sunday are about God’s mercy, the necessity for trusting Faith and the need for God’s forgiveness of sins. The opening prayer addresses the Father as “God of Mercy.” In the responsorial psalm we repeat several times, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy endures forever” (Ps 118).
The second of Easter invites us not only to reflect on the Divine Mercy but also to reflect on the importance of belonging to the community of believers in the church.
A pastor was standing at the door as he always is to shake hands. He grabbed a guy by the hand and pulled him aside. The Pastor said to him, “You need to join the Army of the Lord!” The guy replied, “I’m already in the Army of the Lord, Pastor.” Pastor questioned, “How come I don’t see you except at Christmas and Easter?” He whispered back, “I’m in the secret service.
Believers who are intent upon exercising their faith cannot but belong to the faith community our spiritual family, for we were not reborn in baptism for self-sufficient aloneness. A wall will not be strong with loose bricks; the bricks must be cemented together. Today’s first reading tells us how the early Church grew every day because of the acts of mercy and sharing, sacrificial (agape) love practiced by the early Christians. They expressed it by sharing what they had with everyone in need.
We too need to belong to the community of believers to derive support from one another and grow in our faith. Our faith is never perfect. We need others’ faith to help our unbelief. Like life, our faith too has peak moments and zero moments. It too has mountain top and valley moments. When we are in a valley of doubts and our faith seems to flicker and threaten to go out, we need the community. We need to belong to it also in order that we might experience the presence of the risen Lord. St. Thomas got his experience of Christ in the community of disciples. In the community he became a believer because there he met Jesus.
To belong to our believing community means, is to come together to pray, to break the word of God and to break the living bread. To belong to is to server and serving God with our little is the way to make it more. To belong is to share, our time, energy, talents for common welfare. To belong to the community of believers is not always to see eye to eye but to walk arm in arm. It is fellowship which doubles our joy and divides our grief, a fellowship which flourishes at the fountain of forgiveness.
Today I invite you to reflect not only on God’s mercy shown to us through his Son Jesus, but also what it means to belong to the community of His believers, His Body the church? How can we apply the lesson we learn from the early Christian community to our church community here in our parish? How much effort do I make to interact with other fellow Catholics or walk away saying I don’t have anything to do with other believers? Let pray to two saints made today Pope St. John XXIII and Pope St. John Paul II to bless our community.