Pastoral Sharings: "Second Sunday of Easter"

WeeklyMessage Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS
Second Sunday of Easter
Posted for Arril 12, 2015

In our Gospel text today we are told the story of the
Apostle Thomas who refused to believe that Christ had
risen from the dead. His fellow Apostles tried to convince
him that Jesus had actually risen from the dead but
Thomas replies to them that unless he can put his finger
into the holes the nails have made he will not believe.

Of course we know very well how some time afterwards Jesus makes another appearance and invites Thomas to place his finger into those very holes and of how Thomas replied with the most memorable phrase, ‘My Lord and my God.’

These beautiful words indicating the most profound belief in Christ’s resurrection echo down through the ages in the Church and they are often to be found on the lips of the faithful at the moment of the elevation in the mass.

Seeing the precious elements of the Eucharist changed into the Body and Blood of Christ there could be no words more appropriate to put on our lips than those of Thomas the Apostle, ‘My Lord and my God.’

You will notice in the first part of the reading that Christ introduces himself to the startled Apostles with the words, ‘Peace be with you.’ These words frequently occur in the Gospels whenever the Risen Lord makes an appearance. Sometimes he says, ‘Do not be afraid,’ which amounts to the same thing more or less.

I think that these words are obviously meant to tell the Apostles not to be alarmed at what they are seeing; but surely they also mean much more than this. What is being said is that the gift of the Risen Lord is one of profound peace to all those who believe.

Knowing and believing that Christ has risen from the dead completely changes us. It opens up a whole new avenue of understanding and faith. Believing in the resurrection doesn’t stop with the bare fact of a risen body but leads to a most profound understanding of the salvation that Christ by means of his resurrection has won for us.

Belief that Christ is risen leads directly to belief in heaven, belief in the forgiveness of sins, belief in the communion of saints, belief in the power and efficacy of the Eucharist and numerous other important elements of the Christian Faith.

Accepting the doctrines and beliefs of the Church brings us a profound satisfaction and contentment. Believing all that the Church believes means that our lives are filled with meaning and purpose. It brings us to an understanding of man and his place and role in the world. It means that we appreciate how we are contaminated by sin but also of how we are redeemed through the saving death of Jesus.

Our faith helps us to appreciate the meaning of our journey through this life on Earth and permits us to look forward with great joy and anticipation to the delights of life everlasting in heaven.

Our beliefs help to keep us on the right track in life, enabling us to avoid sin and to establish firm moral principles. They help us to be outward looking, to have a sense of purpose and moral integrity. In short our beliefs help us to become responsible and loving citizens of this Earth; people who are therefore greatly valued by those around us.

These beliefs and doctrines that flow directly from our faith in Christ’s resurrection give us a sense of purpose and a great confidence that we are living our lives in conformity with God’s will. But that does not mean that we are not on occasion troubled by doubt.

Thomas the Apostle could be regarded as the patron saint of doubters. He wants practical proof, he wants to see with his own eyes and touch with his own fingers before he can come to faith in the Risen Lord.

Often enough we find ourselves thinking in the same way. We too want proof, we don’t like everything depending on the strength of our own faith when so often we experience doubts about the beliefs of the Church.

Sometimes these doubts are about the rightness or wrongness of particular moral acts. We might think that the Church is being too strict in some areas or that it is out of touch with modern life. One of these areas that is drawing attention at the moment is the plight of those who are divorced and remarried and the bar on then receiving Holy Communion.

This is one of the things being considered by the Synod on the Family to be held in Rome in October. I wouldn’t expect things to change very much except that there might be steps taken so that those who are divorced can more easily obtain an annulment if it is appropriate.

The Church has to keep things in balance; it has to maintain fidelity to the words of Christ, ‘What God has joined, let no man put asunder,’ and be open to the problems and tensions of people living in the modern world. This is not easy but it is understandable that the Church looks more to the wisdom of Christ rather than to the demands of a secular society.

After all it is Christ who understands the human heart better than anyone else; it is he who knows what is truly good for us. Just because something is difficult that does not mean it is bad; on the contrary it is only by doing things that are difficult that we achieve true greatness.

Doubts can also occur about some other areas of doctrine. Sometimes these doubts are more like temptations such as the temptation to believe that Christ is not the Son of God; that he has no power or that belief in him is useless.

These doubts can be difficult to deal with. They come into our minds at unexpected moments and try to lead us away from Christ and his Church. We should realise that such temptations come from the Evil One and their purpose is to destroy our faith, disrupt our attendance at mass and decrease our devotion to prayer. In such difficult moments it is good to call on the assistance of St Thomas asking him to help strengthen our faith.

We may feel that our faith is very weak and in some situations we find ourselves unable to resist persuasive arguments against it; frequently too we don’t feel strong enough to convince our children of the truths of the Gospel because we cannot find the right answers to their questions.

In these situations we must remember that we are part of a greater whole. We belong to the Church and among its members there are people with varying degrees of faith, some very strong others very weak. But our faith is shared and the weak are strengthened by those with more faith.

We might sit in Church wondering about our own lack of faith but are then inspired by those around us who respond with a strong voice and who clearly believe very firmly. Faith is the common property of the members of the Church, it is shared and we all benefit from our collective beliefs.

The final words of Jesus in today’s text should be a consolation to us all, ‘You believe because you can see me. Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.’

Digest of Articles from Catholics Blogs and Websites
April 12, 2015

Divine Mercy Sunday, Year B—April 12, 2015
Today’s Gospel records a post-Resurrection appearance of Jesus in which His mercy to sinners begins to flow. Watch out! There is no stopping it.

Gospel (Read Jn 20:19-31)

The celebration of our Lord’s Resurrection on Easter Sunday usually focuses on the sheer ecstasy of His victory over death. All during Holy Week, we are absorbed with the details of His horrific Passion. When we reach Easter, our hearts nearly burst with joy that Jesus is alive and vindicated as God’s Son. In other words, it’s easy to dwell on the fact of the Resurrection and be so dazzled by it that we do not think much beyond that. The mercy of Divine Mercy Sunday (yes, intended pun) is that now we begin to meditate on the meaning of the Resurrection. Today’s Gospel gets us started.

Second Sunday of Easter: The Battle against Doubts
The Gospel for the Second Sunday of Easter is always  from John 20: 19-31, the Gospel of Doubting Thomas.  Perhaps, the reason for this is that the second part of this Gospel takes place the Sunday after the Resurrection.  But there is more than this.  Jesus appeared to just a few people after the Resurrection.  There was Mary Magdeline and any others that may have been with her, the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and the eleven and anyone with them in the Upper Room, Easter Sunday and the Sunday after Easter, the disciples who saw the Lord on the shore while they were fishing, and finally those who were present at the Lord’s Ascension into heaven.  Everyone else is left with an empty tomb.

Practicing the Spiritual Works of Mercy
We are all encouraged by the Lord, especially by reading and meditating on Mt. 25:31-46, to practice the Corporal works of mercy—to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to welcome the foreigner, and to visit both the sick and the imprisoned. 

In sum, our Final Judgment will be based largely on love of God but manifested on our love for neighbor. Indeed, using the words of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta: “We must find Jesus present in the distressing disguise of the poor.” St. Vincent de Paul, known for his great love for the poor, actually called the poor “his masters”.

No Other World Religion Has Any Similar Claim: Suffering Becomes Love
Did you wake up on Easter Sunday with all of your sufferings gone like Jesus did?  Perhaps on Good Friday you were taking on fasting, and…financial troubles, betrayal by a spouse, a lost job, addictions, contradictions, misunderstandings, family members who left the faith and/or divorce.  And, when Easter came, all of your sufferings ended.  Right?  Of course they didn’t.  The loneliness, disease and unforgiveness continued, making it a little bit hard to sing “the strife is o’er, the battle done” with a full-tank.  Maybe you got home—thought—yeah, it’s a nice point of faith that Jesus miraculously rose from the dead.  Maybe you even believe it.  But perhaps you feel like asking:  Why is Easter really any different from Lent?  (Except for the fact you gorged yourself with candy, beer and meat and had a little less guilt than you did on Lenten Sundays.)

Practicing the Spiritual Works of Mercy
We are all encouraged by the Lord, especially by reading and meditating on Mt. 25:31-46, to practice the Corporal works of mercy—to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to welcome the foreigner, and to visit both the sick and the imprisoned.

In sum, our Final Judgment will be based largely on love of God but manifested on our love for neighbor. Indeed, using the words of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta: “We must find Jesus present in the distressing disguise of the poor.” St. Vincent de Paul, known for his great love for the poor, actually called the poor “his masters”.

Are Catholics the “Resurrection People”?
“We are an Easter people, and ‘Alleluia’ is our song!”

These words are attributed to St. John Paul II. And, indeed, he did deliver them; once, during an address at a black parish in Harlem in 1979, and again before leading the congregation in the Angelus at a Mass in Adelaide, Australia, in 1986. However, the Pope was paraphrasing a quote from St. Augustine of Hippo, some 1,500 years before: “We are a resurrection people, and our song is ‘Alleluia’.”

The Resurrection Appearances “Chronologically” Arranged
Today’s post is a follow-up to yesterday’s blog.

When we encounter the resurrection accounts in the New Testament, we face a challenge in putting all the pieces together in such a way that the sequence of events flows in logical order. This is due to the fact that no one Gospel presents all or even most of the information. Some of the accounts seem to conflict. I have opined before (HERE) that these apparent conflicts are usually not in fact true conflicts. Another difficulty with putting all the facts together in a coherent manner is that the timeline of the events is unclear in some of the accounts. Luke and John are the clearest as to the timing of the events they describe; Matthew and Luke give us very few parameters. Both Acts and Paul also supply accounts in which the timeline is not always clear.

Five Ways to be a True Catholic Rebel
Come on, we know better than the Church, don’t we?  After all, this is the 21st Century and times have changed.  Modern man is fully capable of deciding what is moral on his own, right?  All the really smart people in the media, government and academia who encourage us to embrace abortion, contraception, euthanasia and gay marriage can’t be wrong, can they?  After all, everyone knows that new and fresh ideas must clearly trump over two millennia of Church teaching.  Right?


Happy are Those
A few years ago, as I had the sung version of the Divine Mercy Chaplet blaring during my shower, I was interrupted by a then-four-year-old wanting to play a guessing game with me. Hearing her sincere belting out of the song, punctuated by “Mom, your turn!,” made me smile.

It also made me think about how Mary must have used prayer in her daily life. I’m pretty sure she had a fair share of stress in her life. Life back in those days was hard in a way few of us can appreciate. She wasn’t rich, and she didn’t have the luxury of sitting down for a few minutes of “Me Time.”

Peace through Mercy
Some of us who are older remember that Sundays were once quiet in downtown; in shopping areas, parking lots were empty. Most businesses were closed and few people had to work on Sundays. Surely there were exceptions, such as medical personnel, emergency workers, and those who ran essential services like power plants. But for most, Sunday was a day off. And although the biblical Sabbath was Saturday, in a largely Christian nation Sunday was the “Sabbath” day of rest.

The Stillness and Silence of the Mass
When Holy Mass is properly celebrated there are moments in which the voices of both priest and faithful become si­lent. The priest continues to officiate as the rubrics indi­cate, speaking very softly or refraining from vocal prayer; the congregation follows in watchful, prayerful participa­tion. What do these intervals of quiet signify? What must we do with them? What does stillness really imply?

Choosing Love over Likes
“Do you like it here in the Philippines?” I have been asked this question many times in my missionary experience and my honest response has always been in the affirmative. But I honestly respond with a firm negative when I ask myself, “Do I really like everything here in the Philippines?” There are surely things that l like, i.e. things that are according to my taste, and things that I sure wish were different. Who can honestly claim that he or she likes every single thing about a place or culture or country, even their own native culture? Once we can accept that we cannot like everything about a place or situation, it becomes clear to us that it is not what we like that gives meaning to our lives.

“Save Yourselves from this Corrupt Generation” (Acts 2:40)
This verse in the Book of Acts brings an image to my mind of a street activist holding a sign with these words scrawled across it — a scenario many would turn away from. But those who heard St. Peter’s speech at Pentecost were “cut to the heart by it,” and that day three thousand were baptized and received the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Delusions the Devil Suggests to Sinners
Let us imagine a young man who has fallen into grievous sins, which he has already confessed, and who is restored to the friendship of God. The devil again tempts him to relapse; the young man resists for a while, but in consequence of the delusions suggested by the enemy, he begins to vacillate. “Tell me, young man,” I say to him, “what will you do? Will you now, for this miserable pleasure, forfeit the grace of God, which you have just acquired, and which is more valuable than the whole world? Will you yourself write the sentence of eternal death, and condemn yourself to burn forever in hell?” “No,” you answer, “I do not wish to damn myself; I wish to he saved; if I commit this sin, I will afterwards confess it.” Behold the first delusion of the devil! Then you say that you will afterwards confess it; but in the meantime you lose your soul. Tell me, if you had a jewel worth a thousand crowns, would you throw it into a river, saying, “I will make a diligent search for it, and hope to find it?”

How to Build a Family-Friendly Parish
“St. John Paul II taught us that without the family — the domestic Church — there is no Church,” said Father Luis Granados, parochial vicar at St. Mary Catholic Church in Littleton, Colo., whose parish’s theme for the past year has been “Toward a Family-Friendly Parish.”

“We want to be family-friendly because God is family-friendly. He formed the people of Israel from the family of Abraham; he sent his only begotten Son to the family of Nazareth, and he has chosen the family as the place of the transmission of the faith.”

Fathers and Daughters – Is This a Missing Key to Modesty Today?
Yesterday we discussed the intolerance of the very radicals who are forever calling for tolerance. A couple of people wrote in to indicate that they consider my stance duplicitous, since I likely support Archbishop Cordeleone’s stance requiring Catholic School teachers to demonstrate loyalty to Catholic teachings and promise not to teach to the contrary in Catholic schools. I do in fact support the good Archbishop. But I do not accept the charge of duplicity.

The Church As the Last Defender of the Power of Human Reason
One can be fundamentalist about fundamentalism, and morally conservative Christianity satisfies for many on the left the need for someone to hit that animates real fundamentalism. The kind of narrow, pinched, shrewish, intolerantly dogmatic mind supposedly common among traditional Christians is a mind found in people of every commitment, except maybe among the converts to westernized Buddhism. I think it’s more common on the left, especially the lifestyle left, than among traditional Christians, though people on the left can hide it better and they apply it to socially approved targets, like the conservative people of Indiana.

Understanding the Apostolic Age
Around 80,000 people lived in Jerusalem during the Roman occupation. Most of them were descendants of Israel. Most were Jews, and they knew that their city would be the site of the climactic scenes of the greatest drama in human history — a drama not merely of local importance, but cosmic in scale.

“The ‘angel’ among the garbage-pickers
Amid the filth and despair of Cairo’s worst slums, a middle-class ‘lady in white’ feels called by God to protect the children who must sort rubbish to stay alive

It’s a place that feels as though it’s beyond hope. It has existed on the fringes of Cairo for generations, a maze of crumbling, dark dwellings and narrow streets of packed dirt, trodden by emaciated donkeys pulling wooden carts towering with stacks of rubbish.

When God’s Love Hurts
“On the Way of the Cross, you see, my children, only the first step is painful. Our greatest cross is the fear of crosses. . . . We have not the courage to carry our cross, and we are very much mistaken; for,whatever we do, the cross holds us tight — we cannot escape from it. What, then, have we to lose? Why not love our crosses and make use of them to take us to Heaven? But, on the contrary, most men turn their backs upon crosses, and fly before them. The more they run, the more the cross pursues them, the more it strikes and crushes them with burdens. . . . If you were wise, you would go to meet it like Saint Andrew, who said, when he saw the cross prepared for him and raised up into the air, “Hail O good cross! O admirable cross! O desirable cross! receive me into thine arms, withdraw me from among men, and restore me to my Master, who redeemed me through thee. “ — St John Vianney

The Cross is for Wretches Like Me
In his remarkably profound book, Lift Up You Heart, Bishop Fulton Sheen said, “The Cross is the most inescapable reality of life. If we will not accept it outside of ourselves, to pardon us and to heal, then we will have it inside, as frustration and despair.” The life changing reality of Calvary has been that “most inescapable reality” for millions of people. I am included in their ranks.

ASK FATHER: Haven’t been to confession for 40 years
From a reader…


I’m 49 and haven’t been to confession since I was about 9 I say prayers every day and pop into church now and then to light candles the thing is I’ve not been to well recently and would like to make a confession but not to sure what to say could you please help

How about,

“Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It’s been about 40 years since my last confession. I think I’m going to need some help from you for this confession.”

A Work Week Theology
There are more of us then there are of them.  More laity than religious, that is. Throughout history, the great saints have gifted the Church with unique charisms and rules for religious life.  But what does that mean for those who live and work in the world—the other 7.2 billion of us?

We are reminded in Lumen Gentium (the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church) that we live in the world, and each and every one of the world’s occupations and callings and in the ordinary circumstance of social and family life which, as it were, form the context of our existence. We are called by God to contribute to the sanctification of the world from within, like leaven, in the spirit of the Gospel, by fulfilling our own particular duties.

We live in the world. But how are we to live—which really is to say how are we to fulfill our “particular duties” and live an authentically Christian life? Much of what we know about the spiritual nature of work is rooted in a classic disagreement between two sisters: Martha and Mary.

St. John Paul II’s Great Legacy
10 Years After Death, His Teachings Undergird Pope Francis’ Key Priorities

When Pope John Paul II died 10 years ago on April 2 — in 2005, the vigil of Divine Mercy Sunday; this year, it will be Holy Thursday — it was frequently commented that an epic papacy had just concluded, that John Paul was the kind of pope the Church has been sent only a few times in her long history.

The Case for a Mass Conversion of Men
Despite the fact the New Evangelization has been an ongoing emphasis by the Catholic Church for over forty years, it has failed to stem the disastrous losses of the faithful in the U.S. Since 2000, 14 million Catholics have left the faith, parish religious education participation of children has dropped by 24%, Catholic school attendance has dropped by 19%, baptisms of infants has dropped by 28%, baptism of adults has dropped by 31% and sacramental Catholic marriages have dropped by 41%. Something is desperately wrong with the Church’s approach to the New Evangelization. Catholics have left the faith, parish religious education participation of children has dropped by 24%, Catholic school attendance has dropped by 19%, baptisms of infants has dropped by 28%, baptism of adults has dropped by 31% and sacramental Catholic marriages have dropped by 41%. Something is desperately wrong with the Church’s approach to the New Evangelization.

Do Small Things with Great Love
The older I get, the more time I spend enduring medical exams and “procedures.” Never willing to waste time, I often pray in my moments alone while waiting. I’m also fond of chatting up and observing people. That can provide flashes of grace.

Recently, I was laying on a hospital bed in expectation of being wheeled into a room for a procedure. The curtain in the room was opened, which gave me clear view of a hallway. I watched an older man, probably in his early-to-mid 70s, as he was preparing another room like mine for the next patient. I saw him change the pillowcase, then strip and remake the bed.

And I was mesmerized watching him wash the bed.

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