Thanks to Easter, Sunday came to replace the Sabbath as the Day of the Lord. We now gather very especially on this day, to witness the mystical renewal of the Holy Sacrifice of Calvary and to participate in the real presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. By doing so, we do not merely fulfil an obligation but a personal need for ever-closer union with God.

We might expect Jerusalem to have been a city transformed after the momentous event of the Resurrection; we might imagine news of the Resurrection to have spread like wild fire to make it known that Jesus is God. But none of that happened. The city and the world were wrapped up in themselves, as though nothing had happened. How fortunate that you and I can cherish our Easter meeting with the Lord!

It is delightful that Easter does not last just a day but forever, although liturgically, it is a fifty-day period until Pentecost (seventh Sunday after Easter). In the run-up to this Sunday, there is a deluge of post-Resurrection stories that will hold us in awe and give our faith a boost. Through the week we heard narratives – from the Acts of the Apostles and the four Evangelists – and we have three more today.

In the first reading (Acts 5:12-16), the Apostles begin to feel the power of the Risen Lord. After they had been afraid and not knowing what to do, Jesus empowered them to preach the Good News and to forgive sins. So, they began to teach with authority and heal with compassion. They were like clones of the Master, his hands and feet, working wonders in His Holy Name. Yet it was not by their miracles alone that believers were added to the Lord; it was by the Holy Spirit’s action on minds and hearts that the numbers steadily rose.

After the Resurrection, the Apostles came to be held in high honour, yet theirs was not a runaway victory. Sometimes, they faced persecution and even ran into doctrinal tangles. But as the second reading (Rev 1:9-11A, 12-13, 17-19) makes it clear, God was in control, as He always is. The Divine Master had promised that He would be with the Apostles every step of their way and His work would prevail over any persecution. Here we see St John, who was exiled for the faith in the tiny rocky island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea, warmly comforted and gently prodded by Jesus’ words that defy paraphrasing: ‘Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one; I died, and behold I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. Now write what you see, what is and what is to take place hereafter.’

What utterances of deep reassurance, of wisdom, of truth, expressing the ultimate reality! Here is the water of life – if we drink of it, we will thirst no more. Here is the bread of life – if we eat of it, we will never be hungry. Yet, how many from among the learned and worldly-wise today would believe in Him who is the Author of Life, the Master Physician, the Good Shepherd, the Lamb of God, the Light of the World, the Prince of Peace, the Son of the Living God, the Way, the Truth and the Life?

In the Gospel passage (Jn 20:19-31), we meet Thomas who has meanwhile gone down in history as the ‘Doubting Thomas’. He had been sceptical of his companions’ account, not of the Resurrection per se. Without taking amiss his interim refusal to believe, Jesus let Thomas feel His crucifixion wounds. That the disciple stopped short of touching Him and instantly believed, saying, ‘My Lord and my God’, does credit to the future Apostle of India. Of course, Jesus rounded it off with a ‘beatitude’: ‘Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe’, commending those who approach divine claims with eyes of faith.

Thanks to this unforgettable story (which only St John and the not the synoptic Gospels mention, and is read on the Second Sunday of Easter regardless of the year cycle), we get to understand the true nature of the Resurrection and of the faith we must cultivate: First, that Jesus rose physically and not by means of some virtual reality technique! Second, that seeking a proof does not work against but rather confirms a person’s faith. Thirdly, that doubt can indeed be part of our faith journey and even lead to great turnarounds – an experience so human that Thomas’ words are acknowledged after the Agnus Dei in the Holy Mass.

In conclusion, the readings of today invite us to look into our own faith experiences; to not be afraid to proclaim the Gospel; and to humbly turn our gaze to Christ and experience His love and mercy, particularly on the Feast of Divine Mercy that is celebrated today. A very Happy Feast to you all!