Sunday Sermon for April 19, 2020, the Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy A
Readings: Acts 2:42-47; 1 Pet 1:3-9; Jn 20:19-31
On the first Easter the Apostles locked themselves into a room because they were confused and afraid. This Easter people were locked in their homes, confused and afraid. As we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday today, I think it is absolutely paramount that we take to heart the words our Lord Himself asked to have written below His picture: Jesus, I trust in You! The Apostles trusted Jesus, sort of. When push came to shove, they put their trust in their own selves and forgot about trusting God. In the panic of our day, it is easy to do the same.
Perhaps we can look at the present situation, among other things, as an opportunity to evaluate our faith and our trust. In the second reading today St. Peter says God has “given us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” In the same reading He says: “you may, for a little while, have to suffer through various trials, so the genuineness of your faith … may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
So, our present trials are meant by God to purify our faith. Hope is built upon this faith; everything is perfected by charity. We profess our belief in Jesus, but in times of trial we may waver a bit. Just look at St. Thomas from today’s Gospel. A couple weeks earlier Thomas was the one recommending to the other Apostles that they should all go to Jerusalem and be killed with Jesus. Now, he refuses to believe. After our Lord mercifully shows Thomas the wounds in His hands and side, Thomas is able to make an absolute act of faith that has inspired millions of people over the centuries: “My Lord and my God!”
Each of us willingly makes this same profession, but now we have the opportunity to prove it. To say Jesus is Lord and God is not just an objective statement, it needs to be the foundation of a subjective relationship. In the first reading we are told that the early Christians devoted themselves to “the teaching of the Apostles and to communal life, to the breaking of the Bread and to the prayers.” We do not have the opportunity right now to focus on the communal life because it is hard to develop community at six foot intervals. Neither do we have the ability to devote ourselves to the breaking of the bread, or the Holy Mass, because we are not able to be at Mass.
However, we are all have the opportunity to focus on the teaching of the Apostles by reading the Scriptures and to allow their teaching to affect the way we life by spending time daily in prayer. Even if we cannot get to Mass, we can watch Mass live streamed or recorded. It is not the same as being at Mass, but for the moment it may be the best we can do. There are also some parishes that have a camera set up for adoration of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. The cameral is set on the monstrance and, while we cannot be in the actual presence of our Lord, we what we are looking at live is truly Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.
If you find yourself locked in your house, try to turn your house into something of a monastery or a hermitage for the present time. Set a schedule for prayer and for work. This is what the monks and nuns do. Split up your prayer so that there will some prayer in the morning, some in the afternoon, and some in the evening. Interspersed between the prayer are times of work and meals. Some of the work is preparing meals and cleaning up afterward, but there may be some other projects around the house that you can work on while you have the time.
If we are frightened and confused, this tends to lead to behaviors that are not good for us. If we are bored we are more prone to fall into sinful activities. Try keeping the computer and TV to a minimum. It may take a bit to adjust to the silence, but once you do, you will love it! The silence allows you the opportunity to speak with the Lord throughout the day or, if there are no words, to just be with Him in the silence.
This kind of ordered and prayer filled life will not only keep you occupied, but it will remove the fear and the confusion. It will also allow us to put our faith into practice, make the objective truth into a subjective relationship, and result in being able to look at our Lord and say honestly: Jesus, I trust in You!
Fr. Altier’s column appears regularly in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly published in St. Paul, Minn. For information about subscribing to The Wanderer, please visit www.thewandererpress.com.