Holding on to Easter Joy

2nd Sunday of Easter

Divine Mercy Sunday

Acts 4: 32-35; 1 John 5: 1-6; John 20: 19-31

Deacon Larry Brockman

Can you still feel the Joy of Easter, or has last Sunday’s joy passed you by?

 Possibly the parking lot after Mass last week wiped out your joy; or returning to work, or school, or your chores sobered you up, because as soon as you stepped out of this Church with all the fantastic joyous music and the bold and glorious proclamations of the Resurrection accounts, promising life everlasting for those who believe and follow the Gospel, the real world was waiting out there for you, wasn’t it?  And that world is full of non-believers, cynics, and people who are dedicated to just one thing in life- number 1, themselves, and self-gratification. They make a very powerful case for how foolish it is to believe in anything else, not to mention all the details that life here throws at us.

 And so now, just a week later, the promise of life everlasting last week seems so remote and vague in the face of the end of semester test; the PTA conference with little Johnny’s teacher;and the progress report on your work project that was due Friday  that you didn’t get to. What sounds really good is a good stiff drink; a great steak with all the accompaniments; and in fact, anything that is real and tangible- something that the world has to offer, just like all the folks of the world told you.   

 In fact, it may have taken all you could muster to come here again this week. Because time, time is of the essence.  After all, we have only one life to live, right?   

 Well, let me offer another perspective.  As some of you know, I visit a local hospital twice a week to help the Chaplain.  I see so many people there who are experiencing a giant wake up call.  They were in the fast lane of life, and then wham, all of a sudden they find out they have cancer; or old age has caught up with them and they can no longer be independent; or they have had a heart attack or stroke that has left them alarmingly weak; or because of diseases like diabetes, they are going to lose a leg or limb.  All of a sudden life becomes tremendously precious to them.  All of a sudden, they wonder if there is something more than life as we know it, because all of a sudden they realize that their quality of life here is greatly diminished, and in fact, they are going to die, some of them soon.   

 Why did all of you come here last week?  Because you knew that Easter was that one great time of the year in the Church calendar when you would hear about the ultimate promise that we all long for- life everlasting in happiness and joy, especially after we die; and all of us are going to die for sure.   

 Even though the world may have choked out that feeling of joy quickly for all of the reasons I mentioned and more, many of us are back this week, hoping the joy returns.  Well, we do have the same message for you- rejoice because Jesus Resurrection of the body from the dead and his promise that we will all experience a similar Resurrection from the dead,,is real; very real; and following Jesus guarantees us life everlasting.     

 Realistically, that promise is shrouded in the same doubt that Thomas experienced, isn’t it?  We find it hard to believe in the face of the real world we all experienced in this last week since Easter.  But in his genius, Jesus anticipated that doubt, and so, we have today’s Gospel story about Thomas.  So truly, “Blessed are those who have not seen and believe.” because the rest of us have nagging doubts.   

 We just spent the 40 days of Lent getting ready for the promise of the Resurrection.  That preparation was supposed to involve a self-examination of our lives, an examination that would reveal where we need to change, that is repent.   

 John says in our second reading, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten of God”.  So first, we have to believe; believe that Jesus is the Christ, our savior, and that the Resurrection is real.  We have to believe it in order to believe that our everlasting life, which follows that of Jesus, is real.  We have to believe it despite all of our trials and tribulations in this world, despite all of that the cynics and non-believers say and do, and despite the more attractive things of this world that give immediate, although temporary gratification.     

 Then John goes on to say that we need to love God:  And what does that mean?  Well, John says it this way:  “The love of God is this, that we keep his commandments”.  Obedience,  that is what God is big on.  And so we are called today to the same conversion process, believing and repenting, that was the hallmark of Lent.  When we really believe and do God’s will we will experience an underlying joy and peace of mind because God comforts those who are on the right track.   

 But there is something really special about today because today, the Sunday after Easter, has been designated Divine Mercy Sunday.  You see, Our Lord recognized that many of us would still have our doubts; would still be influenced by the world and it’s cynics and pundits, and would need more than the promise on Easter.  Today, we are blessed with something more, and something really special.  Because no matter how far we have strayed; no matter what we have done in the past, Jesus is telling us that mercy triumphs over judgment.  Jesus is promising us the gift of everlasting life and happiness for all who believe, as long as we promise to seek his forgiveness and repent- that is change our lives- from this moment forward.  Jesus is promising all of us mercy no matter what we have done.   

So, Brothers and Sisters, now is the time.  Accept the Divine Mercy offered by Jesus.  Believe in your hearts in the Resurrection.  Seek forgiveness for sins of the past.  Promise to bring your life into accord with God’s commandments from this moment on.  And then experience the underlying joy that comes with knowing that you are forgiven everything, and will live forever in the kingdom of God. 

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