Sunday Church at Home, 2nd Sunday of Easter/Divine Mercy

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2nd Sunday of Easter/Divine Mercy

Sunday Church at Home

during lockdown in the Coronavirus Pandemic

A Community Animated by the Word
is Proof That Christ Is Alive!

The lay leader makes the sign of the cross, saying:

Leader:        In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

All reply:      Amen

Leader:        Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

All reply:      Blessed be God for ever

Leader:        In today’s Gospel reading, the risen Jesus comes among his disciples. As we gather to celebrate the mystery of Easter in our Eucharist, we remember that the risen Lord is just as present here among us as he was with those first disciples.

LITURGY OF THE WORD

First Reading: Acts 5:12-16

Introduction to the reading: During the seven weeks of the Easter Season, the first reading is always from the Acts of the Apostles.  Its author, Luke, saw the history of salvation in three great stages:  In the first stage, found in the Old Testament, God’s Spirit raises up leaders and prophets to guide the people; in the second stage, found in Luke’s Gospel, the Spirit anoints Jesus as God’s holy one; and in the third stage, described in the Acts of the Apostles, the Spirit works in the Church, fulfilling Christ’s promise to be with us until the end of time.

A reading from the Acts of the Apostles

Many signs and wonders were done among the people
by the hands of the apostles.
And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico.
None of the rest dared join them,
but the people held them in high honour.
And more than ever believers were added to the Lord,
multitudes both of men and women,
so that they even carried out the sick into the streets,
and laid them on beds and pallets,
that as Peter came by
at least his shadow might fall on some of them.
The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem,
bringing the sick
and those afflicted with unclean spirits,
and they were all healed.

The word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 118:2-4.22-24.25-27a (R. 1)

Let us pray the Responsorial Psalm:

R/. Give praise to the Lord, for he is good;
          his mercy endures forever.

Let the house of Israel say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
Let the house of Aaron say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
Let those who fear the Lord say,
“His mercy endures forever.”

The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
By the Lord has this been done,
a marvel in our eyes.
This is the day the Lord has made;
let us rejoice in it and be glad.

O Lord, grant salvation;
O Lord, grant success.
Blest is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
We bless you from the house of the Lord;
the Lord is God, and has given us light.

R/. Give praise to the Lord, for he is good;
          his mercy endures forever.

Second Reading: Revelation 1:9-11a.12-13.17-19

Introduction to the reading: This year during the Easter Season, the second reading each Sunday is from the book of Revelation, written near the end of the first century.  Revelation is an Easter book because it focuses on the Risen Jesus and our final victory over sin and death.  Today’ passage describes the call that the author received.  He was to convey God’s message of hope to Christians who were being persecuted.

A reading from the Book of Revelation

I John, your brother,
who share with you in Jesus
the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance,
was on the island called Patmos
on account of the word of God
and the testimony of Jesus.
I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day,
and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying,
“Write what you see in a book
and send it to the seven churches.”
Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me,
and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands,
and in the midst of the lampstands
one like a son of man,
clothed with a long robe
and with a golden sash across his chest.
When I saw him,
I fell at his feet as though dead.
But he laid his right hand upon me, saying,
“Fear not, I am the first and the last,
and the living one;
I died, and behold I am alive forevermore,
and I have the keys of Death and Hades.
Now write what you see,
what is and what is to take place hereafter.

The word of the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia
You believed, Thomas, because you have seen me, says the Lord; blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.
Alleluia.

Gospel: John 20:19-31

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week,
the doors being shut where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood among them and said to them,
“Peace be with you.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.”
And when he had said this, he breathed on them,
and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven;
if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin,
was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.”

But he said to them,
“Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails
and place my finger in the mark of the nails,
and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house,
and Thomas was with them.
The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them,
and said, “Peace be with you.”
Then he said to Thomas,
“Put your finger here, and see my hands;
and put out your hand and place it in my side;
do not be faithless but believing.”

Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”

Jesus said to him,
“You have believed because you have seen me.
Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples,
which are not written in this book;
but these are written that you may believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that believing you may have life in his name.

The Gospel of the Lord.

Reflection on the Readings

The leader reads the text prepared by the priest and leads the sharing.

Last week Saturday it was raining. It was the Easter Vigil. So we lit the new Easter fire underneath the edge of the portico. All the people were inside the church – in darkness. We lit the Paschal Candle from the new Easter Fire and brought the light into the church. And the light spread from person to person as we passed on the light. It spread into more and more glowing dots around the church. And the soft light of Christ filled the church.

In the glow of the light of Christ, the cantor sang the Exsultet – the beautiful proclamation of the resurrection of Christ. We gave praise and thanks to God for what the light represents: God’s saving activity throughout human history, culminating in Christ’s defeat of death and resurrection from the dead.

Now, just one week later, in the Gospel, we find “doubting Thomas.”

 “Show me the nail marks in his hands, let me put my finger into his side and then I will believe.”

Was he laying down conditions for faith? Let us look.

Thomas and the other disciples were not yet great examples of faith. Huddled in a tiny room with doors locked double tight for fear of the authorities, holding their distress close, with self-protection and doubt. Was there a speck of dawning light, or was darkness the final word?

When we explore the different stories of the resurrection in the gospels, we find that: Jesus appears first to women, not to men. In each case the women believed. Usually he then sent the women to the men, who in their case did not get it, at least not yet fully.

Peter and John actually did run to the empty tomb, and Peter went inside. “They did not yet understand the scripture that he had to rise from the dead,” it says in John 20:9, except that John did, but they went home.

Mary Magdalene was outside. In a powerful burst of light, she recognised the Risen Christ. Christ told her not to hang on but to go to the men and explain the good news. She did.

Let us imagine. This is the situation: living with doubts based in deep fear; it feels like life is meaningless – empty, nearly drowning  in fear and doubt. In our mind we know that the Holy Spirit is never absent. But in our hearts, we are walking on the edge of emptiness.

That was what is was like for the disciples – living with fear.Fear of the Jewish authorities who collaborated with the Romans to have Jesus executed. At the last supper, Peter said: “Lord, at your side, I am prepared to face imprisonment and death itself.” (Luke 22:33)

That very night Peter denied knowing Jesus. (Luke 22:60).

What happened to make the difference? What enabled the apostles to open the doors where they were huddled in fear and go out into the threatening world to proclaim the resurrection? What caused Peter and John to resist the Sanhedrin’s orders to stop preaching Christ among the people (Acts 3:11-4:22)?

Certainly this complete change did not come about because the apostles braced themselves, gave each other a pep talk and then launched out to the world beyond their locked doors. It wasn’t a “What” that emboldened the timid community of Jesus’ followers – but a “Who.”

The Risen Jesus first greeted the disciples, “Peace be with you.” They needed to know that, despite their previous fears and betrayals, they were reconciled with Christ and one another. And then what? They might have remained a peaceable little community of Jesus’ followers – meeting regularly to recall the “old days” with Jesus.

But Jesus breathes the creative Spirit upon them. Through Jesus, God’s gift of light has entered the world afresh and enables the disciples to go out into the dark world, to bring forgiveness and reconciliation among peoples – to be a “light to the nations,” as Jesus was. Through Jesus’ Spirit, the disciples will no longer be afraid and can begin their ministry proclaiming forgiveness.

Jesus’ speaks 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 says in response, “My Lord and my God.”

That is the heart of our creed – of our faith.

Jesus’ life, death and resurrection point us toward the source of all life, the source of the universe, of trees, of women and men, of marriage and offspring.

” Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

Some people have a personal encounter with the risen Christ, like Thomas, like the disciples. The rest of us come to experience his forgiveness and new life through the witnesses he has sent to us.

We give thanks at this Eucharist for those witnesses who have been the source of living faith, bringing us the light of Christ – Jesus, – risen from the dead and who is in our midst now.

From today’s Gospel reading:

Thomas said,

“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.”

Reflection:

Many of us can claim kinship to doubting Thomas. We commonly say, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” Jesus counters that attitude when he utters the beatitude, “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” That’s us!

We don’t see and then believe…instead, we believe and then see Christ alive in our prayer and our daily lives.

So we ask ourselves:

  • What is it in our personal or surrounding world that causes us to doubt our faith in the risen Christ?
  • What or who has strengthened our faith in those times?
  • What sign of the risen Christ am I to others?

Prayer of the Faithful

Leader:       

We come before the Lord at this Easter celebration: the risen Jesus is here among us and so we make our prayers of intercession.

Reader:

We pray for all disciples of Jesus today: (pause)
may they be inspired by the Holy Spirit to be true witnesses to our risen Lord.

LORD HEAR US

We pray for peace, justice and understanding in all those places where there is war, hatred and conflict, remembering that Jesus spoke peace to his frightened followers.

LORD HEAR US

On this feast of the Divine Mercy, we bring before the Lord all those who feel alienated from the church community and the sacraments: (Pause)

may the Holy Spirit be with them.

LORD HEAR US

We pray for all who are suffering, especially those affected by the floods in KZN: that God will heal the sick, comfort the grieving, guide refugees to safety, and open resources to those who lack food and medicine

LORD HEAR US

We pray for members of our families and friends who have died and those whose anniversaries occur about this time.

LORD HEAR US

We pray for Peter Bishop and Brian Quinn who died this week.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.

And let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. AMEN

Leader:        Let us pray the Prayer of Entrustment of the World to Divine Mercy:

God, merciful Father,

in Your Son, Jesus Christ,

You have revealed Your love

and poured it out upon us in the Holy Spirit,

the Comforter.

We entrust to You today

the destiny of the world

and of every man and woman.

Bend down to us sinners,

heal our weakness,

conquer all evil,

and grant that all the peoples of the earth

may experience Your mercy.

In You, the Triune God,

may they ever find the source of hope.

Eternal Father,

by the Passion and Resurrection of Your Son,

have mercy on us and upon the world.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Spiritual Communion

We can unite ourselves to the Eucharist through making a spiritual Communion.

By making an Act of Spiritual Communion, we express our faith in Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist and ask him to unite himself with us.

My Jesus, I believe you are really here in the Blessed Sacrament.
I love you more than anything in the world, and I hunger to receive you.
But since I cannot receive Communion at this moment, feed my soul spiritually. I unite myself to you now as I do when I receive you. Amen.

CONCLUDING RITE

Leader:        Let us pray to the Father in the words Jesus our Saviour gave us:

All say:        Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  Amen.

Leader:        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,
one God for ever and ever.

All:               Amen.

Blessing

A leader who is a layperson, using no gesture, says:

Leader:        May the God who has redeemed us and made us adopted children
through the resurrection of his only Son
bless us and fill us with joy.
R. Amen.

May the God who has bestowed on us
the gifts of redemption and lasting freedom
make us heirs of eternal life.
R. Amen.

May the God who joined us to Christ’s resurrection
by faith and baptism
lead us to live justly
and so bring us to our home in heaven.
R. Amen.

Leader:        May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Alleluia. Alleluia.

All:               Amen. Alleluia. Alleluia.

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