Recorded Mass, Second Sunday of Easter

(Devine Mercy Sunday)

19th April 2020

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Homily 2nd Sunday of Easter 19th April 2020

When I am walking around Burnley at the moment for my daily exercise, I see nearly everything is closed; shops, businesses, pubs, restaurants and of course churches. Because of the virus, the doors of all these places are closed and locked until further notice, There are two sides to a locked door ~ on the one hand from the outside it is clear you are not to enter unless invited and from the inside when your doors are locked you feel secure from danger and things that are unwelcome are kept out.

The Gospel starts off with the Risen Lord appearing to the disciples on that first Easter Sunday evening. Though the doors, we are told are closed out of fear, they can’t keep out the Risen Lord. He shows them his wounds and greets them with “Peace be with you”, which shows the Easter peace has been won at great cost. Their initial shock and fear turns to joy as it dawns on them it really is the Lord.

Thomas however was missing: when he later hears the others have seen the Lord, he cannot believe it; he cannot accept that the Lord can have risen after such a terrible death that he had endured. The others have been able to process what this means for them, but there is a risk that Thomas will be left behind. We are told that 8 days later Jesus comes to the disciples again, even though the doors are locked. This time Thomas is there and Jesus brings his peace, reconciliation. The Lord cannot be shut out of bringing his mercy and compassion upon those he loves. Most importantly Jesus is understanding and compassionate with Thomas. Jesus knows it is unheard of for someone to rise from the dead as he had and so he is gentle and merciful with Thomas. He knows it is very important for Thomas to be able to accept the Resurrection as real and true. This will enable Thomas to take his place as an Apostle and play his part as being an essential witness to the Resurrection of the Lord. Thomas makes an enormous leap of faith then, being able to declare Jesus as His Lord and his God! He will go on to play an important role in bring the Gospel to the world and go on to die for his faith in the Risen Lord,.

Today is also Divine Mercy Sunday which fits in nicely with John’s account of the Easter story where Jesus breathes on the disciples giving them the Holy Spirit and empowering them to forgive sins: because the the whole point of his death and Resurrection is to reconcile sinners with God. It also coincides with the story of Thomas where the Lord is merciful with him despite his doubts.

The Mass I am celebrating today is all alone, in an empty church with the doors closed and locked. We are currently in lockdown and are told to stay at home and only go out for essential reasons. Though the doors of this church are locked today, because of Easter we cannot prevent Christ from being present to us in the Words of the Gospel and He will come truly present to us on this altar in the Eucharist. Although He can’t be present today to you sacramentally, The Risen Lord is truly present in your home through your faith. The Words of Christ you have heard just now in the Gospel are real and are life giving. The spiritual communion you will make today is equally real and significant. In the same way that Jesus comes to his disciples, you cannot prevent the Risen Lord from coming into your presence.

St Peter says some important words to us in the second reading echoing the words of Christ in the Gospel to Thomas: “you did not see him yet you love him.” May your love for the Risen Lord remain strong, may you know that He as close to you today as he always is, and even you are locked in your home and locked out of church, the Risen Lord’s love for you remain as strong as ever.