Homily for second Sunday of Easter B

After the resurrection of Jesus Christ and before the apostles were convinced of his resurrection, they locked themselves up in a room. They were afraid of the Jews, they were afraid that they might be the next target. But Devin Mercy refused to let them remain prisoners just as we too have been set free out of mercy. Today we celebrate Mercy Sunday, and we are reminded of how the apostles were behind closed door. And while they were there, Jesus came and stood among them. He greeted them and offered them the gift of peace and the Holy Spirit. He breathed on them and said; “receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.”

Thomas, one of the apostles was not there when Jesus came. When the others told him how Jesus appeared to them and what he had said, he refused to believe. Thomas insisted that unless he sees Jesus he would not believe in the resurrection. Eight days later, while the apostles were still behind closed door, Jesus came in and stood among them again and Thomas was there. Thomas saw Jesus and he believed, but Jesus said to him; “you believe because you can see me. Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

What Jesus said to Thomas is very important; “you believe because you can see me. Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.” Happy are you! Blessed are you!! You have not seen, I have not seen yet we believe. We believe he is risen, we believe he is alive and we believe that the resurrection power can break through anything that stands its way. That is the faith of the Church, that is the faith on which we must stand. Anyone who stands on this faith must not look elsewhere, must not look outside the community of the Church. Thomas stepped out of the community of the apostles and he missed the first appearance of Jesus Christ. Though we do not know where he went to but we know that he was not there when Jesus first appeared.

Today, many Christians look outside the community of the Church to look for powers and quick solution to problems; for them, God is not strong enough. They are ceremonial Christians; going to Church is just one of those things for them, they no longer believe in the resurrected Christ. Maybe they want to say like Thomas; unless I see him I will not believe. We must realize that faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Heb. 11:1). No wonder therefore Jesus said, “happy are those who have not seen yet they believe.” We believe that he is the Lamb that was slain to die no more, we believe he is alive to live forever and he who steps out of the believers’ community steps out of the resurrection power.

The resurrection power of Jesus Christ broke the chains of death and broke through the walls of fear. The apostles were afraid and so locked themselves up in a room, but Jesus came and stood among them. He broke through the walls of fear to penetrate the lives of the chosen. The resurrection power of Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and for ever. It can break through your walls of fear, the walls of sickness, and the walls of setback.
The resurrection power of Jesus Christ brings new life, it empowers, it recreates and renews. Jesus breathed on the apostles and he said to them “receive the Holy Spirit. That was what the father did at the beginning, he formed man and breathed into his nostrils and man became a living being. God gave us life, but we damaged the life. You and I have allowed sin to destroy us, but Jesus came to die, he rose and he breathed new life into the Church. He breathed mercy, he breathed love into the Church.

Today is mercy Sunday, we celebrate the mercy of God. Because of his mercy, he gave the Church the power to forgive sins; “for those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.” (Jn. 20:23). Mercy is the Lord’s Easter gift to each and every one of us; out of mercy he came, died and rose for our justification. On this day, we join the universal Church to celebrate the mercy of God in a special way. Let us therefore trust the Devine Mercy and approach God for forgiveness, let us open up to the power of the resurrection of Christ and be lifted above our weaknesses; to allow the mercy and the breath of God refresh us.

Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA

Joel Okojie is an ordained Catholic Priest in the Order of St. Augustine. He has been a Priest for over a decade. He served as pastor in two different parishes, he was one time Novice Master and a member of the Provincial Council of the province of St. Augustine of Nigeria, and he is currently on a mission in response to the needs of the Church in Canada.

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