12 Apr – 2nd Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday)
Faith: Our Victory Over The World
We come together today like that first group of believers, united heart and soul, and celebrating our victory over the world through our faith n Christ, the Son of God.
– Sunday Missal
The whole group of believers was united, heart and soul; no one claimed for his own use anything that he had, as everything they owned was held in common.
The apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus with great power, and they were all given great respect.
None of their members was ever in want, as all those who owned land or houses would sell them, and bring the money from them, to present it to the apostles; it was then distributed to any members who might be in need.
1 John 5:1-6
Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ
has been begotten by God;
and whoever loves the Father that begot him
loves the child whom he begets.
We can be sure that we love God’s children
if we love God himself and do what he has commanded us;
this is what loving God is –
keeping his commandments;
and his commandments are not difficult,
because anyone who has been begotten by God
has already overcome the world;
this is the victory over the world –
Who can overcome the world?
Only the man who believes that Jesus is the Son of God:
Jesus Christ who came by water and blood,
not with water only,
but with water and blood;
with the Spirit as another witness –
since the Spirit is the truth.
In the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.
‘As the Father sent me,
so am I sending you.’
After saying this 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, called the Twin, who was one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. When the disciples said, ‘We have seen the Lord’, he answered, ‘Unless I see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe.’ Eight days later the disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. The doors were closed, but Jesus came in and stood among them. ‘Peace be with you’ he said. Then he spoke to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Doubt no longer but believe.’ Thomas replied, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him:
‘You believe because you can see me.
Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.’
There were many other signs that Jesus worked and the disciples saw, but they are not recorded in this book. These are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing this you may have life through his name.
Who can overcome the world? Only the man who believes that Jesus is the Son of God
Faith is a door that we will all walk up to at one point in our lives. But Belief is the doorway that we must walk through, if we are to claim entry into God’s kingdom. Why this distinction? For me, the sameness and difference between Faith and Belief is subtle, but apparent in what it requires of me. Faith is always there, offered by our Heavenly Father because of His Divine Love and Mercy — this is why Faith as often referred to as a gift. Belief, though, requires of me a choice, the act of my will to walk up to the door of Faith and decide, “I choose to walk through this doorway.”
This has been my experience in my spiritual journey. In all times — be it times of good, bad, crisis, anger, fear —I have always intuitively known that God is with me. This is why for me, faith really has been His gift of love to me. However, I have not always responded with generosity of my heart and will to receive God’s gift by choosing to believe. To believe that He WILL be with me throughout. This has always been my struggle. Simply put, I know that God’s offer of faith-hope-love is there, but either I don’t think I am worthy of His love and protection, or I choose to wallow still (a little longer) in my despair and doubt.
In today’s Gospel, Doubting Thomas takes centerstage with his unbelief. He had a deep love for Christ and we know he was grieving the loss of Jesus. We are told he was not present the first time Jesus appeared to the rest of the disciples. When they recounted the incredulous appearance of Jesus, his resolute reply was, ‘Unless I see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe.’ I can only imagine the depth of his sorrow to lash back at his brethren. He sounded angry, spiteful, bitter, frustrated, disturbed, and mostly heartbroken.
Contemplating on Thomas’ reaction, I find a mirror for my own moments of pain and paralysing fear. I want the evidence, because I think that it matters. I want the evidence that God has already rescued me, resolved all my problems, delivered my answers, before I will say “I believe.” Is that then, really a true belief? Or a statement made after-the-fact? Have I sometimes the expectation of God to be a genie, and His higher ways to be the very wishes I shall dictate that He should grant me?
‘Who can overcome the world? Only the man who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.’ Reflecting on the scriptures today, I recognise again that my Faith is the salvation story — and it has already been written. However, my choice to Believe, is the very 33 years that Jesus chose to walk the earth and endure his last 3 days of abject humiliation, torture, and suffering in every extreme — in order to claim the triumph of Faith.
In this sense, Christ Jesus chose to walk through that doorway and kept on walking through every doorway that was placed in his journey. The question is now posed me, this and in every moment: do I choose to walk through all the different doorways in my life, the good and the bad — even the ones leading into unknown territories, hardships and trials? What is my response? How have I chosen to act? In refusal, or belief and love? I do have a choice. And with the Lord’s grace, I am I am strong enough to cleave to Jesus, as he walks through this with me.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Debbie Loo)
Prayer: Lord Heavenly Father, please I beseech You for the graces and divine strength to choose to believe in You and to claim the promises You make for myself.
Thanksgiving: I thank you Jesus, for always going before me and for choosing to die on Calvary for me. You have risen! Your resurrection is the reason I can now overcome this world and all its despair and darkness.