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He is the way, the truth and the life (Jn 14:6).



THE SECOND SUNDAY AFTER EASTER 2024       


Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe (Jn 20:29)

               

The day of Divine Mercy- 


The apostle Thomas would not believe that Christ was alive simply because others told him so. Their experience was not enough to satisfy him. The issue was too important, the implications too demanding to allow himself dependence on others, even though he knew his fellow apostles well. He needed personal reassurance, based on personal experience. He waited another eight days for that to happen. The Fourth Gospel account provides a highly dramatic scene. Thomas’ total scepticism has been transformed into total certitude. Jesus does not upbraid Thomas for his scepticism nor praise him for his belief. However there would have been no future for Christianity at all if everyone had taken the Thomas approach. 

                Super individualism is the death of human relationships, the death of society.  We need the credibility of others to make our way through this life. We would not know who we are if our parents did not tell us the truth. We could not move securely if promises were not honoured. We depend on the truth being told and the experience of truth for our journey in this world. Total lying leads to total despair. George Orwell showed the horrors of totalitarianism (Nineteen Eighty-Four, chapter IX-The Ministry of Lying). As normal human beings we are brought up to trust people. As we grow up we may learn later to doubt about the goodness of persons because of our experience, and because people tell lies. These days it seems describing such as ‘fake news’ mitigates the opprobrium of naming the perpetrators as liars. But the gospel was preached and lived out by witnesses, accredited as such and sent by Jesus, and he declared blessed those who believed, helped by word and example of the accredited witnesses. This is replicated at 1 Pt 1:8-9: “without having seen him you love him; though you do not now see him you believe in him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy” (RSV). 

               

What to Believe

           He is the way, the truth and the life (Jn 14:6). And the truth will make you free (Jn 8:33). To be free, is our experience in relating with our best friends all the time. Here the truth is supremely personal. How do I interrelate with others? Each one of us is invited again and again to look back on our own personal existence- to think of everything of significance that has happened to us until we are where we are now. For St Paul (2 Cor 5:18) the resurrection was like a new creation. It was like starting all over again. Experience tells us how we should live, personally and in community. Cease to be self-centred. Take care of others. Use your talents. Pay attention to political and social manipulation. Love is the guide to life. The world is not full of enemies; it is full of potential friends. We need each other and in every way and all the time. We are totally and absolutely interdependent in so many ways. Writ large- in religious language- this is reconciliation, or salvation or redemption…the words indicate the same content. The people who hive off immediately into their own private comfort zone deny this, and do not notice how much they need others. No man is an island…ask not for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. (John Donne). It has all been said so often and so well.


Mercy Sunday

               Today is Mercy Sunday. Mercy can only be experienced between persons; it is a disposition leading to action. The merciful person is able to alleviate another’s need. It is more than pity which can be an emotion that does not include doing something about a need or pain or loss. One can have pity on an animal, but hardly show mercy to it, and certainly animals do not show pity or mercy in combat- mercy belongs to the  individual human conscience. It is supremely realistic and practical. For instance it would be easy to say of immigrants: that ‘they are taking our jobs, our housing, our livelihood’- until we see that they are our doctors and lawyers and priests, and social helpers. What about compassion? Mercy challenges us to the core of our being. Lord have mercy, have pity on me, so well expressed in Come, Come, Come to the Manger at Christmas. Our Lord above all alone in the New Testament is seen to be full of mercy and compassion, the perfect image of his Father, who in the Old Testament is defined by mercy. Shakespeare’s perception is so right: it is an attribute of God himself. And earthly power doth then show likest God's-


                When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,

                Though justice be thy plea, consider this,

                That, in the course of justice, none of us

                Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;

                And that same prayer doth teach us all to render

               The deeds of mercy.


Conclusion 

.               My Lord and my God, said Thomas. He had changed profoundly. This was a radical conversion. His brothers had not been deceived. They were true witnesses. With such Jesus had founded the Church as a community, and in it the Good News preached and lived as community. The Church’s distinctiveness as a reconciled community is experienced daily by believers in relationships, and especially as worship in the celebration of the Eucharist. Believers call each other brothers and sisters who constitute the new family of God. They treasure the Mass and sacraments, glad to be able to pray together, sharing the same ideals and feelings, expressing compassion for each other and for everyone everywhere who may be suffering. ‘Peace be with you’ was the resurrected Jesus’ repeated greeting to the frightened apostles (Jn 20:20,21,26). In a word this was the proclamation of salvation: shalom. The Messianic times had arrived….the Sovereignty of Love had been vindicated.  Today as always where love is lacking and hatred prevails, because of injustice and selfishness, there remain agonising problems for all.  In today’s world the complexities in finding solutions are all too real. We hope and pray that others may help where we cannot.  Faith, hope and love are always the sustaining virtues of Christians. Our daily lives would be impossible without them. Amen.

                                                                                                                                                

Rev. Richard J.Taylor, MCI Spiritual Advisor

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