2nd Sunday of Easter- year A
Reading 1 ACTS 2,42-47 Psalm 117 Reading 2 1PT 1,3-9 Gospel JN 20,19-31
This Sunday closes the Octave of Easter. For a few years now it is called “of divine mercy”: the Gospel, in fact, is telling us about Jesus making an effort and humbling Himself very lovingly for His disciple’s benefit, who is incapable of believing. That disciple cannot believe because he is arrogant. Thomas does not want to believe the word of his ten friends and brethren, nor all the Scriptures which talk about the life of the person who trusts God.
Jesus does not abandon Thomas is his isolation which generates sadness, He meets him in the middle. And just like that, Jesus meets us in the middle very mercifully in a number of ways, so we are not giving up believing in Him, so we are not giving in to the many temptations every day are trying to make us doubt the resurrection from the dead, and therefore His presence, the truthfulness of His Word, His gift of communion and peace.
Jesus let Thomas touch His wounds: He gives us peace every time we trust Him by asking for His forgiveness through His Church. This is another reason why today we admire and celebrate God’s mercy: the risen Jesus has given His disciples the task to forgive men’s sins.
“Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained”. God’s mercy towards us has high priority in Jesus’s heart. As soon as He has risen, during His first meeting with the disciples, He gives them this divine task: all those who are looking for peace of heart, communion with God, strength to keep up the trust in Jesus and commitment to the work He assigns, find in their words the certainty of the Father’s merciful love.
The late Pope Benedict the 16th reassures us: “In the sacrament of Penance, whatever sin we might have committed, if we recognise it humbly and we go to the confessor priest with trust, we can always experience the pacifying joy of God’s forgiveness”. And Pope Francis has even arranged for the whole Church to celebrate a holy year so all faithful people can experience the Father’s mercy. And he continues to insist on the need for asking for forgiveness, and he is never tired of recommending to the priests to be merciful and never doubt the repentance of the sinners who are coming to confession.
The sacrament of mercy is an intimate rendezvous with the risen Jesus. Therefore it needs to be entered in with the goal of uniting to Jesus, of starting over on the path with Him, of letting ourselves be guided by His patient and strong hand. We put the sins in His hands, so they will not hinder our full commitment to His wisdom and His teachings. They who are not looking for Jesus to offer themselves to Him, will not find meaning in confessing their sins, on the contrary, they will reject this as an interference in their private life.
“Whose sins you retain are retained”, Jesus says. It is not on a whim, in case, if the priest does not forgive the sins, but because he does not see, in the person admitting them, the will to listen to Jesus and obey Him to continue on the path of communion with the Church.
Through forgiveness, the Lord is reinstating us in the community, the very one He had started with the disciples and which continues to live a new life: a life of reciprocal love, which gives joy to whom takes part in it. In fact, the man has extreme need for communion, even if this requires effort.
The first reading is showing us the first community in Jerusalem, where the love for Jesus was the unending reason for the love for the brethren. On that community we shape our parishes, learning humbly and joyfully to take always part in common prayer times, in unity, in fraternal life, in listening to the disciples’ Word.