Pastoral Sharings: "Second Sunday of Easter"

WeeklyMessageFather Alex McAllister SDS
April 27, 2014
Second Sunday of Easter

Very often you see pictures of St Thomas touching the wound in Christ?s side but in actual fact the Gospel does not record this event. Christ certainly showed him his wounds but it is never mentioned that Thomas reached out his hand to actually touch them. 

Interestingly, apart from this incident, Thomas is portrayed in the Gospels as being very brave. In the account of the raising of Lazarus that we heard on the last Sunday of Lent when Jesus gets the message of Lazarus? illness and he decides to go up to Jerusalem we find Thomas saying, ?Let us go too and die with him.? 

These are not the words of a timid and fearful man; a man beset by doubts. And yet when the other Apostles tell him of their meeting with the Risen Lord, which for some unknown reason he had missed, Thomas flatly refuses to believe them. 

What Thomas had missed out on was an encounter with the Risen Christ. And, no matter what the other Apostles said, he refused to believe. He wasn?t open to persuasion or reasoning. 

And I think we have to say, ?Rightly so!? After all, faith does not come from reasoning or from what anyone else tells us. Faith is a gift of God and it principally comes though an encounter with the Lord. 

In Thomas? case this was the actual presence of the Risen Jesus who showed him the wounds of his crucifixion. For St Paul it was his Damascus experience. 

In every case, let me suggest, faith comes through an encounter with the Lord. Mostly these are not physical encounters like that of Thomas, but they are just as real nonetheless. 

Each one of us comes to faith by a different route. Things happen to us on life?s journey that help us to see the hand of God at work in our lives. 

As a child we might be brought up by our parents to believe in God and we grow up accustomed to pray each day. In this way prayer becomes a natural and even essential part of our lives. 

But this is not merely the saying of prayers. What our parents have initiated us into is a dialogue with the Lord ?with a person, with God himself. Each time we pray we are entering into an encounter with God. 

At some point or other the young person faces the criticism of others and they question whether this is a real dialogue or whether they are just talking to themselves. If their prayers are more than merely superficial then they may well come to the realisation that this is no empty dialogue but a real and meaningful conversation with the Lord. And through this insight their faith is strengthened and moves to a new and deeper level. As life goes on our faith is validated by all sorts of events and occurrences. I clearly remember talking to a group of secondary school pupils. We were discussing prayer and I asked them if they ever felt that their prayers were answered. 

One girl said that together with her whole family she had prayed very hard for her grandmother who had cancer. She explained that although they had prayed for a cure the grandmother actually got worse and eventually died. 

Nevertheless she felt that her prayers had been answered because her grandmother had died peacefully and was happy to go to God. It was also clear that her own faith had been strengthened by this and that she felt closer to God and to her family as a result. Thomas said that he wanted proof. He said that unless he could put his hand in the wounds he would not believe. But when Christ appeared to him that was enough, he never reached his hand out to touch the wounds. 

Instead he fell to the ground with the great words ?My Lord and my God? on his lips. Throughout his life Thomas never lacked courage. Tradition has it that he preached the Gospel in many different countries ultimately travelling as far as India where he was martyred. As we have heard together with Jesus he set out on the road to Jerusalem saying to his fellow Apostles, ?Let us go too, and die with him.? Well, he certainly got his wish even if he had to wait a few years for it! 

His faith was surely tested more in that final moment of his death than it ever was before. But in the end he remained resolute. His words to Jesus, ?My Lord and my God? or something very like them were surely on his lips as he gave up his spirit. 

Thomas had the extraordinary privilege of knowing Jesus in the flesh and also of meeting him in his risen form. But the greatest encounter of all was at the moment of his own martyrdom when he was drawn into the presence of God in heaven. 

It is this final and ultimate encounter that we are all preparing for. And the best preparation of all is for us to open our eyes and see the hand of God in our lives and for us to spend time in prayer and dialogue with him, but most of all by sharing his body and blood in the Eucharist. 

It is in these ways that our faith is fed and strengthened. It is by doing these things that at that final moment, with God?s grace, we will make that great and wonderful prayer of Thomas our own.   
http://www.catholicwealdstone.org/wordpress/?p=1645

SaintJohnChurchMiddletown.com

Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
April 27, 2014

2nd Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday)
Gospel John 20:19-31

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Second Sunday of Easter: Doubts, Divine Mercy and St. John Paul II
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Doubting Thomas
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There is much evidence for the reliability of the Gospels, but here is one of the strongest bits of evidence I know.  Think for a minute.  If you were part of a group who decided to perpetrate an elaborate hoax, what would be your motive?  Wouldn’t you want to gain some significant benefits from such a risky business?  Maybe fortune, fame, and privilege?  And if you were to be prominent figures in this tall tale, wouldn’t you at least want the story to make you look good?
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Second Sunday of Easter, Year A (Divine Mercy Sunday)
Gospel (Read Jn 20:19-31)

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Jesus Died to Save You – What Does THAT Mean???
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The Five-Fold Argument for the Resurrection
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Live Out Divine Mercy
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Honoring Two Beloved Popes
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But for those Americans who can’t make the trans-Atlantic trip, there will be plenty of fanfare and celebration stateside, as two of the 20th century’s most beloved popes become saints.
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I Can Tell He Loves Me
The old saying is that all roads lead to Rome. 

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Two Modern Saints for the Modern World
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Pope Francis approved the healing of Floribeth Mora of Costa Rica from a brain aneurysm as miraculous, making it the second approved miracle attributed to the beloved Polish pope who passed away in 2005. The first miracle was the healing of a French nun, Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, who had been afflicted with Parkinson’s disease—the very ailment that John Paul II suffered from. Both of these women prayed for John Paul’s intercession and both of their prayers have been answered.
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3 Things Catholics Need to Confidently Reclaim and Own Again
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I bet the first thought most people have is an evangelical Protestant.

But not a Catholic.

And that’s a problem.
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Seek the Lord’s Will, Even in Uncertainty
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God is Not a Vending Machine
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The Dignity of Dying
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Does Faith Need Culture? Answers from Scripture & the Church
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(John 10:10 ).

Is culture something necessary for the life of faith? Or, is it rather a distraction? Does it pull us further away from a focus on the next life, by rooting us in the things of the earth? Is it a temptation to try to build a lasting city, when Hebrews says “here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come” (13:14).
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The Meal at Emmaus – Jesus’s Todah
The story of Jesus’s journey to Emmaus has to be one of favorite stories in the whole of Scripture. Cleophas and another disciple were traveling from Jerusalem to Emmaus, devastated by their Master’s crucifixion only days before , and utterly bewildered by the women’s report of the empty tomb, when Jesus sidled up alongside them and struck up a conversation. “What are you discussing?”  Then, while preventing their eyes from recognizing him, Jesus “explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” (Lk. 24:27).  And as if that wasn’t enough, after he accepted their invitation to dinner, “he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight.” (Lk. 24:30-31).
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Are There Souls in Hell Right Now?
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It is, of course, true that hell is a “real possibility” for each of us. And that is a sobering thought. But it is also true that souls are actually in hell now, and will be for all eternity. This is a teaching of our Catholic Faith.
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Origins of the Rosary
The rosary is one of the most cherished prayers of our Catholic Church. Archbishop Fulton Sheen said, “The rosary is the book of the blind, where souls see and there enact the greatest drama of love the world has ever known; it is the book of the simple, which initiates them into mysteries and knowledge more satisfying than the education of other men; it is the book of the aged, whose eyes close upon the shadow of this world, and open on the substance of the next. The power of the rosary is beyond description.”
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Knights’ success built on founder’s desire for charity
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It seems that Catholics have been getting nowhere in the public square lately. The problem is not just losing ground on this issue or that, but an increasing inability to get our issues recognized as real and legitimate. That’s true not only with moral issues, but also with more basic ones like the rationality of religion and the very existence of human nature.
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Why Catholicism Is Preferable to Protestantism
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Here’s one of them.
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Mao Thought He Could Eliminate Religion, He Was Wrong
China, according to the Telegraph, may very well be home to more Christians than any other country in the world by 2030. I know that seems like some futuristic date but hey, that’s only 15 years.

Officially, the People’s Republic of China is an atheist country but that is changing fast as many of its 1.3 billion citizens seek meaning and spiritual comfort that neither communism nor capitalism seem to have supplied.

Christian congregations in particular have skyrocketed since churches began reopening when Chairman Mao’s death in 1976 signalled the end of the Cultural Revolution.

Less than four decades later, some believe China is now poised to become not just the world’s number one economy but also its most numerous Christian nation.
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How To Pass A Personhood Amendment
Everybody knows that Roe v. Wade created a national right to kill your unborn children, and everybody knows that the #1 item on the pro-lifer To-Do list is “Overturn Roe v. Wade.” However, once Roe is overturned, we’ll still have a lot of work to do. Abortion will be a state issue. Unfortunately, most state courts would gladly recreate Roe v. Wade at the state level, using the state constitution to magic abortion rights back into existence. Some have already done this. Meanwhile, although many states provide some legal protections to unborn children, these protections are not considered inalienable human rights; they could be completely repealed with a single legislative act.
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