Many of us are busy trying to juggle many things. I got the same impression from the Church’s celebrations today. There are four things for us to keep in mind: Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday, Thomas Sunday, and the canonization of 2 new saints.
Today is the octave day of Easter. The biggest celebrations of the Church’s year are Christmas and Easter. Both of these solemnities are celebrated for eight days with great festivity (beginning with the vigil and ending on Sunday a week later). Traditionally, those who were baptized at the Easter Vigil would wear their white baptismal garments back to the Eucharistic celebration–another name for today, Domenica in albis (Sunday in white). Again we should remember the joy of our reception of the Sacraments of Initiation.
Today is Divine Mercy Sunday. When St John Paul II canonized St Faustina he officially promulgated that the Sunday after Easter be celebrated as Divine Mercy Sunday. As big as any person’s sins can become, Divine Mercy is alway greater. In the Gospel we see Jesus breathe on the apostles and institute the Sacrament of Penance, “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them” (John 20:23). It is as if God has no memory of sins forgiven in the Sacrament of Penance. Beneath the image of Divine Mercy are the words, “Jesus, I trust in you.” Let us say those words frequently with filial love!
Today is Thomas Sunday. The Gospel relates the story of (doubting) Thomas coming to belief. On both occasions when Our Lord came into the locked room where the apostles were gathered and said to them, “Peace be with you.” Jesus did not berate any of the apostles for their lack of faith or trust. This is especially apparent the second time it happens and Thomas is present. Can you imagine the reverential fear which must have overcome Thomas as he stood before the Risen Lord? Caravaggio depicts Our Lord taking the hand of Thomas and leading it to touch his wounds and finally placing it in his wounded side. Aside from teaching Thomas what love does, Jesus brought Thomas to faith. For us the same is true. Faith is a gift which we must receive from God and then give our assent to. We cannot come to faith by our own efforts! Only God’s grace plants faith in our hearts. Like Thomas, though, each of us needs to have an experience of the Risen Jesus. When we look upon the Holy Eucharist, let us repeat the words of Thomas, “My Lord and my God!”
Today two new saints were canonized, St John XXIII and St John Paul II. Today Pope Francis canonized two of his predecessors at a celebration in St Peter’s Square, Rome in the company of over a million pilgrims. St John XXIII and St John Paul II have much to teach us. St John XXIII convoked the Second Vatican Council for the renewal of the Church. Each of would do well, as it were, to call a sort of Vatican II for our souls! We need to renew the way we follow the Lord as his disciples. We need to look critically at the way we are living now and remove barriers to our sanctification. Our personal holiness matters a great deal. St John Paul II showed us what it means to be truly strong. St John Paul even when he was crippled over by Parkinson’s Disease courageously and strongly proclaimed the message of Christ, inviting us to open the doors of our hearts!
As we have much to juggle in our lives, so the Church juggles much in today’s celebrations. In spite of what we juggle, let us never forget to say: “Jesus, I trust in you!”
Bonus: Someone just called to my attention that, additionally, today is Quasimodo Sunday. Not in reference to any children’s story or Disney movie, but because of the Latin entrance antiphon to today’s Mass: Quasi modo géniti infántes, rationábile, sine dolo lac concupíscite, ut in eo crescátis in salútem, allelúia. (Like newborn infants, you must long for the pure, spiritual milk, that in him you may grow to salvation, alleluia.) This text comes from 1 Peter 2:2 which can be read context here. It’s worth a click and a few moments of meditation.
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