Second Sunday of Easter, April 11 at St. Francis Xavier Parish
“This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad, alleluia”! These are the words from the responsorial psalm that we sang on the Easter Sunday Masses and the antiphon prayed in the Liturgy of the Hours during the Octave of Easter. They remind us that the joy of Easter cannot be contained just in one day but we have the whole Season of Easter to come to deeper appreciation of Christ resurrection. This Sunday is the second Sunday of Easter, also known as Divine Mercy Sunday and the Gospel recalls for us the profession of faith by Thomas.
“Thomas had not been in the room when the risen Jesus appeared to the disciples, and so has missed out on any personal encounter with him, the words of missioning, and the bestowal of the gifts of peace and forgiveness in the Spirit. John makes Thomas a foil for our own need of these gifts and our struggles with doubt and faith. Often the comments about Thomas concentrate too much on him as a doubter (which he is never called anywhere in the gospels) and too little on his desire to touch the source of life. John’s gospel shows him to be the kind of person who blurts out the questions or comments others are too timid or too embarrassed to speak. He is ready to go along with Jesus en route to Lazarus’s grave and die with him (John 11:16); and he is honest enough at the Last Supper to say that none of the disciples have any idea where Jesus is heading (John 14:5). The disciples to whom the risen Lord appeared on Easter eve announce the resurrection to Thomas in the same words as Mary Magdalene spoke to them: “We have seen the Lord.” And they are just as unsuccessful in convincing Thomas as Mary had been with them. Like all disciples, Thomas needs a personal experience of Jesus before he will believe. Until then, he is locked in his own criterion for faith: he wants Jesus to be “touchable.”
So eight days later, on the next “first day of the week” according to the resurrection timeline, the risen Lord of the Sabbath stands again in the midst of his disciples, greets them with his peace, and then turns to the individual who is most in need of this. For eight days Thomas has wrestled with the dark stranger of doubt and is wounded by this struggle. The wounded, risen Jesus and the wounded disciple stand before one another. Jesus invites Thomas to stretch out his hand to the wounds of his hands and side. But there is no physical touching. Jesus’s personal presence and self-offering to Thomas touch him and demolish all doubts. Here is “the way, and the truth, and the life” that Thomas is seeking, and he responds with the most profound and personal assent of faith in all the gospels: “My Lord and my God!” For the future generations who will listen to this gospel in the presence of the physically absent Jesus, the last beatitude that Jesus then addresses to Thomas is our greatest hope: “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” It is to hand on such life-giving faith, says the evangelist, that he has written his gospel.
In his Asian Journal, Thomas Merton wrote: “Faith means doubt. Faith is not the suppression of doubt. It is the overcoming of doubt, and you overcome doubt by going through it. The man of faith who has never experienced doubt is not a person of faith. Consequently, the monk is one who has to struggle in the depths of his being with the presence of doubt, and has to go through what some religions call the Great Doubt, to break through doubt into a certitude which is very, very deep because it is not his own personal certitude; it is the certitude of God Himself, in us.” (Living Liturgy 2021)
Thank you to our parishioners who donated towards this year’s Easter flowers. The names of all those for whom we prayed at each Easter Mass have been published in last Sunday’s online bulletin on our website. Having flowers decorating the sanctuary always makes that space more beautiful and joyful.
I am sure that many of us know this, but since Thursday, April 8 we are under a “stay at home order” lockdown due to the ongoing pandemic. That means that we can only accommodate 15% of our seating capacity at any time, including weddings, funerals and any other Masses and liturgical celebrations. But the good news is that the Church remains open and accessible for private and communal prayers.
I wish to thank all the volunteers who assisted us during Holy Week: our lectors, ushers, musicians, decorators and altar servers, as well those who provided help in organizing different ministries. Having our volunteers helps to have the Liturgies and Masses proceed smoothly with less stress on your pastor 🙂
The Knights of Columbus need your assistance. A few months back one of the freezers belonging to them failed and is beyond the cost of repair. They are asking if anyone would be able to donate a used stand-up freezer. If a parishioner has one that they no longer need then the Knights would be prepared to come by to pick it up. Please call the Grand Knight, Rocco Viola at 9056621224 for more information.
During the past few weeks, when we were doing the online booking for the Holy Week Masses and liturgies, I was able to collect multiple new email addresses from our registration system. I am going to add those emails to the contact list for my weekly parish email that I send on Fridays, but if anyone wants to be removed from that list please email me back this request.
Please remember in your prayers our parishioners who passed away recently: Victoire Losier, Antonio Truglia and Rosa Petitti. And please pray for those who are grieving the loss of their loved ones. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
As this Sunday we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday, all are invited to join us for the Holy Hour with the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament which will begin at 2pm. During this time there will be an opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation until 3pm, when we will pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy followed by the Benediction at 3:30pm.
Just a reminder to us all about being careful when we receive the Blessed Sacrament during Mass while having to manage our face masks. I have noticed that sometimes, as parishioners are removing their facemasks, and trying to consume the Blessed Sacrament at the same time, some pieces of the Host get broken and fall onto the floor. Please don’t rush the process.
An update on First Reconciliation and First Communion has been sent by email to the families of all those students in Grades 2 and 3 who have been registered to receive them this spring, as well as to school staff who are involved. The information in the email is also available in the News tab of the parish website.
See you on Sunday everyone, either in person or on the livestream of the 9am Sunday Mass.