Second Sunday of Easter (or 'of Divine Mercy') A
April 16, 2023
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.



Rite of Sprinkling



God of everlasting mercy,
who in the very recurrence of the paschal feast
kindle the faith of the people you have made your own,
increase, we pray, the grace you have bestowed,
that all may grasp and rightly understand
in what font they have been washed,
by whose Spirit they have been reborn,
by whose Blood they have been redeemed.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.  Amen. (RM)

Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery
established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all
who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ's Body
may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (BCP)

Living God,
for whom no door is closed,
no heart is locked,
draw us beyond our doubts,
till we see your Christ
and touch his wounds
where they bleed in others.
This we ask through Christ our Savior,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever. Amen. (BCW)

First Reading Acts 2:42-47

They devoted themselves
   to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life,
   to the breaking of bread and to the prayers.
Awe came upon everyone,
   and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.
All who believed were together and had all things in common;
   they would sell their property and possessions
   and divide them among all according to each one’s need.
Every day they devoted themselves
   to meeting together in the temple area
  and to breaking bread in their homes.
They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart,
   praising God and enjoying favor with all the people.
And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved. 

Responsorial Psalm

Second Reading 1 Peter 1:3-9

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
   who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope
   through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
   to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading,
   kept in heaven for you
   who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith,
   to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time.
In this you rejoice, although now for a little while
   you may have to suffer through various trials,
   so that the genuineness of your faith,
   more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire,
   may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor
   at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Although you have not seen him you love him;
   even though you do not see him now yet believe in him,
   you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy,
   as you attain the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 

Gospel Acclamation

Gospel John 20:19-31

On the evening of that first day of the week,
   when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
   for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood in their midst
   and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
   “Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
   and whose sins you retain are retained.”

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve,
   was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”
But he said to them,
   “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands
   and put my finger into the nailmarks
   and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Now a week later his disciples were again inside
   and Thomas was with them.
Jesus came, although the doors were locked,
   and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands,
   and bring your hand and put it into my side,
   and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”
Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

Now, Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples
   that are not written in this book.
But these are written that you may come to believe
   that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
   and that through this belief you may have life in his name. 

 Reflection Questions

What is your image of the ideal Christian community? 

How has your faith been tested by fire?

What ongoing challenges to faith do you experience?

Catena Nova 

By his miraculous entry through closed doors Christ proved to his disciples that by nature he was God and also that he was none other than their former companion. That by showing them his side and the marks of the nails, he convinced them beyond a doubt that he had raised the temple of his body, the very body that had hung upon the cross. He had destroyed death’s power over the flesh, for as God he was life itself. Because of the importance he attached to making his disciples believe in the resurrection of the body, and in order to prevent them from thinking that the body he now possessed was different from that in which he had suffered death upon the cross, he willed to appear to them as he had been before, even though the time had now come for his body to be clothed in a supernatural glory such as no words could possibly describe. (St. Cyril of Alexandria)

Do you really believe that it was by chance that this chosen disciple was absent, then came and heard, heard and doubted, doubted and touched, touched and believed? It was not by chance but in God’s providence. In a marvelous way God’s mercy arranged that the disbelieving disciple, in touching the wounds of his master’s body, should heal our wounds of disbelief. The disbelief of Thomas has done more for our faith than the faith of the other disciples. As he touches Christ and is won over to belief, every doubt is cast aside and our faith is strengthened. So the disciple who doubted, then felt Christ’s wounds, becomes a witness to the reality of the resurrection. Touching Christ, he cried out: My Lord and my God. Jesus said to him: Because you have seen me, Thomas, you have believed. Paul said: Faith is the guarantee of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen. It is clear, then, that faith is the proof of what can not be seen. What is seen gives knowledge, not faith…. There is here a particular reference to ourselves; we hold in our hearts one we have not seen in the flesh. (Pope St. Gregory the Great)

"Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet…. [Let] the greatest sinners place their trust in My mercy. They have the right before others to trust in the abyss of My mercy.  My daughter, write about My mercy towards tormented souls. Souls that make an appeal to My mercy delight Me. To such souls I grant even more graces than they ask. I cannot punish even the greatest sinner if he makes an appeal to My compassion, but on the contrary, I justify him in My unfathomable and inscrutable mercy." (St. Faustina Kowalska) 
[God] allowed my soul to be overwhelmed with darkness, and the thought of Heaven, which had consoled me from my earliest childhood, now became a subject of conflict and torture. This trial did not last merely for days or weeks; I have been suffering for months, and I still await deliverance. I wish I could express what I feel, but it is beyond me. One must have passed through this dark tunnel to understand its blackness … When I sing of the happiness of Heaven and the eternal possession of God, I do not feel any joy therein, for I sing only of what I wish to believe. Sometimes, I confess, a little ray of sunshine illumines my dark night, and I enjoy peace for an instant, but later, the remembrance of this ray of light, instead of consoling me, makes the blackness thicker still. (St. Thérèse of Lisieux)

If ours is an examined faith, we should be unafraid to doubt. If doubt is eventually justified, we were believing what clearly was not worth believing. But if doubt is answered, our faith has grown stronger. It knows God more certainly and it can enjoy God more deeply. (C.S. Lewis)

God's call is mysterious: it comes in the darkness of faith. It is so fine, so subtle, that it is only with the deepest silence within us that we can hear it. And yet nothing is so decisive and overpowering for a person on this earth, nothing surer or stronger. This call is uninterrupted: God is always calling us! But there are distinctive moments in this call, moments which leave a permanent mark on us -- moments which we never forget. (Carlo Carretto)

We too often forget that faith is a matter of questioning and struggle before it becomes one of certitude and peace. You have to doubt and reject everything else in order to believe firmly in Christ, and after you have begun to believe, your faith itself must be tested and purified. Christianity is not merely a set of forgone conclusions. Faith tends to be defeated by the burning presence of God in mystery, and seeks refuge from him, flying to comfortable social forms and safe convictions in which purification is no longer an inner battle but a matter of outward gesture. (Thomas Merton)
Reopening Old Wounds
     Some wounds never heal.  Ask any therapist.  Scabs may form, for sure, but it doesn't take much for old wounds to fester.  Think Thanksgiving dinner!  Even surgeons sometimes have to reopen a wound.  And no matter the skill, some wounds never seem to heal.  And it's not just individuals who bear scars of body and mind, nations do as well and, indeed, the world.  All it takes is the latest mass shooting, the most recent proof racism is alive and well, or anti-Semitism, or corruption in high places, including the church, and the scars suddenly begin to bleed all over again.  I wonder if the earth will ever recover from the wounds greed and indifference have inflicted on the planet.
     Then there are the wounds Thomas needed to touch so he might believe.   One might well wonder why those wounds were still visible on the Body of the risen Lord.  You might think all signs of his Passion would have disappeared and that a glorious Body would bear no signs of suffering.  I would certainly like to think the same of my own on the Day of resurrection! 
     But just as puzzling is how Thomas expected this!  Unless I see the mark of the nails…I will not believe Perhaps the other disciples told him how Jesus showed them his hands and his side the week before  but John tells us they simply said, We have seen the Lord (G).  In any case, it's the wounds he needed for proof.  Wounds, by the way, that not only can be seen, but can even be probed.  And it would not surprise me if they were still tender to the touch when Thomas placed his finger in those pierced hands and side.
     What then do the wounds of Christ teach us?  I turn to Pope Francis for some insight here.  He has often spoken about the wounds — frequently in reference to the other name now given to the Second Sunday of Easter — namely, Divine Mercy Sunday.   Allow me to reproduce a catena of sorts drawn from his homilies:
In those wounds, like Thomas, we can literally touch the fact that God has loved us to the end. He has made our wounds his own and borne our weaknesses in his own body. His wounds are open channels between him and us, shedding mercy upon our misery. His wounds are the pathways that God has opened up for us to enter into his tender love and actually “touch” who he is.  (April 11, 2021).
In the redeeming contact with the wounds of the Risen One, Thomas showed his own wounds, his own injuries, his own lacerations, his own humiliation; in the print of the nails he found the decisive proof that he was loved, that he was expected, that he was understood. (April 12, 2015).
In God’s mercy, all of our infirmities find healing. His mercy, in fact, does not keep a distance: it seeks to encounter all forms of poverty and to free this world of so many types of slavery. Mercy desires to reach the wounds of all, to heal them. (April 3, 2016).

Jesus Christ does not appear to his disciples without his wounds; those very wounds enabled Thomas to profess his faith.  We are not asked to ignore or hide our wounds.  A Church with wounds can understand the wounds of today’s world and make them her own, suffering with them, accompanying them and seeking to heal them.  A wounded Church does not make herself the centre of things, does not believe that she is perfect, but puts at the centre the one who can heal those wounds, whose name is Jesus Christ.  The knowledge that we are wounded sets us free…. In Jesus, our wounds are risen.  They inspire solidarity; they help us to tear down the walls that enclose us in elitism and they impel us to build bridges and to encounter all those yearning for that merciful love which Christ alone can give….I ask you: What sort of Church is it that you love?  Do you love this wounded Church that encounters life in the wounds of Jesus? (January 16, 2018).

Look at the wounds. Enter in to the wounds. By those wounds we were healed. Do you feel bitter, feel sad, feel life just isn’t going the right way and you’re also ill? Look there. In silence.” (March 18, 2018)
        And finally, 
The wounds we keep inside create problems not only for us, but also for others. They make us fearful and suspicious. We start with being closed, and end up cynical and indifferent. Our wounds can lead us to react to others with detachment and arrogance, in the illusion that in this way we can control situations. Yet that is indeed an illusion, for only love can heal fear at its root and free us from the self-centredness that imprisons us. And that is what Jesus does. He approaches us gently, in the disarming simplicity of the Host. He comes as Bread broken in order to break open the shells of our selfishness. He gives of himself in order to teach us that only by opening our hearts can we be set free from our interior barriers, from the paralysis of the heart. (June 14, 2020)

         The paralysis of the heart.  Thomas was immobilized by his unbelief.  As were the other disciples, frozen in fear behind locked doors.  Untended wounds are often the result of fear, aren't they?  Fear of exposure, fear of facing them, fear someone will probe them too deeply, fear they will never heal if reopened.  But the Easter gift of faith literally opened those locked doors.  First of all, by the gift of the Spirit who releases us from the bonds of sin and bestows peace.  And then gives us the courage to leave behind whatever prevents us from moving forward.  Why,  we might even be sent as agents of healing for others.  As for Thomas, why legend says he went as far as India so others might through this belief have life in Jesus' name (cf. G). Who lives and reigns, forever and ever.  Amen.  

Intercessions  (From Pope Francis' Urbi et orbi blessing; Easter Sunday 2023)

Help the beloved Ukrainian people on their journey towards peace, and shed the light of Easter upon the people of Russia. Comfort the wounded and all those who have lost loved ones because of the war, and grant that prisoners may return safe and sound to their families. 

Open the hearts of the entire international community to strive to end this war and all conflict and bloodshed in our world, beginning with Syria, which still awaits peace. 

Strengthen all those affected by the violent earthquake in Turkey and in Syria itself. Let us pray for all those who have lost family and friends, and for those left homeless. May they receive consolation from God and assistance from the family of nations.

On this day, Lord, we entrust to you the city of Jerusalem, the first witness of your resurrection. May there be a resumption of dialogue, in a climate of trust and reciprocal respect, between Israelis and Palestinians, so that peace may reign in the Holy City and in the entire region.

Lord, aid Lebanon, which still seeks stability and unity, so that divisions may be overcome and all citizens cooperate for the common good of the country.

Be mindful of the beloved people of Tunisia, and in particular the young and those suffering from social and economic hardship, so that they may not lose hope and may work together to build a future of peace and fraternity.

Turn your gaze to Haiti, which has long experienced a grave social, economic and humanitarian crisis, and support the efforts of political actors and the international community to seek a definitive solution to the many problems that afflict that sorely tried people.

Consolidate the processes of peace and reconciliation undertaken in Ethiopia and in South Sudan, and grant an end to violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Sustain, Lord, the Christian communities that today celebrate Easter in particular circumstances, as in Nicaragua and Eritrea, and remember all who are prevented from freely and publicly professing their faith. Grant consolation to victims of international terrorism, especially in Burkina Faso, Mali, Mozambique and Nigeria.

Help Myanmar to pursue paths of peace, and enlighten the hearts of leaders, so that the deeply afflicted Rohingya may encounter justice.

Comfort refugees, deportees, political prisoners and migrants, especially those who are most vulnerable, as well as the victims of hunger, poverty and the dire effects of the drug trade, human trafficking and all other forms of slavery. 

Lord, inspire the leaders of nations to ensure that no man or woman may encounter discrimination and be violated in his or her dignity; that in full respect for human rights and democracy these social wounds may be healed; that the common good of the citizenry may be pursued always and solely; and that security and the conditions needed for dialogue and peaceful coexistence may be guaranteed.

God of life,
source of all faith,
through the waters of baptism
you have raised us up in Jesus
and given us life that endures.
Day by day refine our faith,
that we who have not seen the Christ
may truly confess him as our Lord and God
and share the blessedness of those who believe.
Grant this through Jesus Christ, the resurrection and the life,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.  Amen. (ICEL; 1998)


Offertory Motet

Quia vidisti me, Thoma, credidisti: beati qui non viderunt, et crediderunt. Alleluia.
Because thou hast seen me, Thomas, thou hast believed:  blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. Alleluia.


Concluding Hymn

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia! That night the apostles met in fear; Amid them came their Lord most dear and said, "My peace be on all here." Alleluia! 
When Thomas first the tidings heard how they had seen the risen Lord, he doubted the disciples' word. Alleluia! 
"My wounded side, O Thomas, see, behold my hands, my feet; said he, not faithless but believing be." Alleluia! 
No longer Thomas then denied; he saw the feet, the hands, the side. "You are my Lord and God!" he cried. Alleluia!