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Homily for second Sunday of Easter C

01 Apr 2016, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Sermons

DivineMercyPostcardToday we celebrate the second Sunday of Easter and Divine Mercy Sunday; we continue to glory in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Through the resurrection power of Jesus Christ, the Church is blessed with power and authority even at the infantry stage, as we see in our first reading this morning. The early Christians met in the Portico of Solomon and were loud in their praise. The resurrection power of Jesus Christ working in and through the Church brought about miracles through the apostles’ hands. The resurrected Christ said to John in our second reading, and he is saying to you and me this morning, Do not be afraid; it is I, the First and the last; I am the living One. I was dead, and now I am to live forever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and understanding. Jesus has risen; he is alive for our justification.

He appeared to Mary Magdalene, and in the evening of that day, the first day of the week, he appeared to the apostles behind a closed door.  Behind that closed door, he gave the apostles the gift of Easter;  peace be with you, he said to them, and he showed then his hands and his side. He showed them the mark the nails made on his hands, and his opened with a lance from were poured out blood and water. At that, his appearance behind closed doors, he empowered the apostles, he recreated them, he gave them a new life of Easter, he breathed on them. Jesus repeated what the Father did at creation when he gave life to Adam. He created Adam out of the dust; Adam was nothing but dust until God breathed into his nostrils and gave him life. In the same way, Jesus breathed new life on the apostles.

After the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the apostles were like nothing but dust. They were almost useless to themselves and the society; they locked themselves up in a room for fear of the Jews; they were with no spiritual life in them until Jesus gave them new life by breathing on them a. He strengthened their weakened bodies, resurrected their faith, and poured out the gift of mercy to the world through the apostles. He said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained. He instituted the sacrament of reconciliation, the sacrament of love and mercy, and that is what the Church celebrates today in a very special way.His hands

We celebrate the mercy of God even though some argue that in the New Testament, we need no other Priest to mediate between man and God. True enough, we actually need no other Priest because Jesus is the High Priest of our faith ( Heb. 4:14 ). But these people fail to understand the power behind the closed door; the closed door separated the apostles from others; they were set apart.  A validly ordained Catholic Priest is set apart; he shares in the Priesthood of Jesus Christ.  In the Catholic Church, the Priests have no Priesthood of their own; they share in the priesthood of Jesus Christ.

Again, some others argue that Christ has made every believer a Priest (1Peter 2:5-9, Rev. 1:6 and 5:10). Yes, every believer is a Priest, we all share in the priesthood of Jesus Christ, but some are specially called into the ministerial Priesthood, And one does not take the honour upon himself, but he is called by God, just as Aaron was. (Heb. 5: 4).

The apostles were specially chosen and set apart. Before his crucifixion, Jesus prayed and consecrated the apostles for the work ahead before praying for those who will hear the word of God through them (Jn. 17 ). As he rose from the dead, he appeared to the apostles behind a closed door. A closed-door separates rooms and people; the apostles were behind a closed door, separated from others, and were set apart. Jesus appeared to them behind a closed door and said to them, peace be with you… as the Father has sent me, even so, I send you. They were chosen and sent; he did not just send them without power and authority; he breathed on them and said, Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.

This power to forgive sins was not given to every believer but only to the apostles, those behind closed doors, those set apart. This apostolic authority flowed down to our generation through the laying on of hands. The laying on of hands is a symbolic act that sets one apart, empowers, authorizes, and fills one with the Holy Spirit. The power to forgive sins is of Christ, given to the apostles, and it is transmitted in the Catholic Church through the apostolic succession.

We celebrate the mercy of God today; we celebrate the gift of the sacrament of reconciliation to the Church. Let us not walk away from this sacrament but learn to appreciate it and appreciate the mercy of God. God forgives sins in the priests; he is the one doing his work in and through the priests. The person of the priest needs this mercy and forgiveness, for he is a sinner too.

Some Catholics are tempted to walk away like Thomas for lack of understanding. We do not know exactly where Thomas called the Twin went when Jesus appeared to the apostles, but we know he was away at the time of the appearance of the Lord. Thank God he came back to the community of the apostles. I also encourage all today not to walk away from the Church and Christ for any reason. If we’ve any way walk away like Thomas, let us also learn from the same Thomas to return through the reconciliation the Lord offers today.

As we celebrate Mercy Sunday, let us continue to glory in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, who reigns forever and ever.