Jesus Appears to His Disciples

Sunday Gospel Reflection
Second Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday)
John 20:19-31
 
Jesus Appears to His Disciples
Josie Gonzalez
 
“ Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you…As the Father has sent me, so I send you…Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.’
 
Thomas replied, ‘My Lord and my God!’
 
‘Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.’ ” (John 20:19, 21, 23, 28-29)
 
“Peace be with You!” The Gospel starts with this powerful message as Jesus appeared to his frightened disciples, locked up in a room and afraid of the Jews, as the Resurrected Christ. Human in His divinity, divine in His humanity.
 
Jesus tells His disciples “Do not be afraid. I am with you.”
 
Nauugnay ang mensaheng ito sa kasalukuyang panahon kung saan ay puno ng takot ang mga tao at pangamba sa tila walang katapusang pandemic dulot ng COVID-19. Kasabay nito ang pagdududa at galit sa kakayahan ng mga namumunong tugunan ng konkretong solusyon at aksyon ang kawalan ng hanapbuhay, gutom, lumulobong numero ng maysakit at namamatay dahil sa COVID-19.
 
Kung pagninilayan natin ito, saan tayo? Parte ba tayo ng solusyon? O tayo ba ay parte ng problema? Pasaway ba tayo dahil hindi tayo sumusunod sa health protocol na mag-mask at mag-faceshield, mag-social distancing, mag-alcohol at maghugas ng kamay?
 
The “new normal” borne of the COVID-19 pandemic is the present state of affairs worldwide. It means lockdown, online schooling, work from home, virtual meetings, webinars, travel ban, more paperless/cashless/faceless transactions—difficult for people who are not tech savvy.
 
It is a harsh reality for commuters, daily wage earners like drivers, vendors, beauty parlor attendants, businesses (small and big alike), etc. And, in desperation, one would probably ask, “where is God in all these? Why does He allow this to happen? Or does He?”
 
In today’s Gospel, we meet Thomas—labelled “doubting Thomas”—who lived by the adage “to see is to believe.” Only when he saw Jesus and put his hand on Jesus’ side that he praised and glorified Him saying, “My Lord and my God!”
 
Are we a “doubting Thomas” not able to see, hear and feel Christ Jesus, here and now, as we battle this invisible enemy? Where is “faith” when we allow our fears, our frustrations, worries and restlessness to overpower us? Are we waiting for His “second coming” before we praise and adore the Almighty God? That would be too late.
 
Let us build our “fortress of faith” that will shield us from all distractions and be a game changer emulating the great game changer Himself—the Risen Lord. He has given us new life through His resurrection. He is our hope and our salvation.
 
Let us ask for the grace to look at people and things through God’s eyes so we may forget ourselves and think of others instead. Let us listen to that small voice within telling us that our mission is to follow Christ and share in His mission as well.
 
Following Christ is on many levels like prayer that comes in many forms. For me, my morning prayer is starting the day with gospel songs and spiritual music that play all day long to keep myself connected with the Lord as I go about my daily activities.
 
Music is food for the soul lalo na kung nakatuon ito sa Panginoon. Magaan ang pakiramdam ng nakakarinig at masaya ang kapaligiran. Pati trabaho gumagaan. Ito ay isang mahalagang bahagi ng araw ko para kumapit sa Diyos.
 
Today is Divine Mercy Sunday and the second Sunday of Easter. Mercy is God’s gift to us sinners who repent, go to Confession, and receive the Holy Eucharist.
 
But, unfortunately, community quarantines now in place have made it physically impossible for us Catholics to practice our faith as freely as before the pandemic. Like many others, most especially the elderly, I have not gone to church for more than a year, nor have I received the Sacrament of Reconciliation. No Holy Eucharist, too, but in its place, it is receiving Christ spiritually on TV Mass. This is the “new normal” in the practice of our faith. But God is with us 24/7, remember?
 
Huwag tayong panghinaan ng loob. Huwag tayong bibitiw sa kamay ni Hesus. Ito ang pagkakataon para palalimin natin ang ating pananampalataya sa Diyos na punung-puno ng pagmamahahal, awa, at habag. Ibalik natin sa kanya ang pagmamahal sa pamamagitan ng pagtulong sa kapwa sa pagdarasal para sa mga may sakit na COVID at namatayan at sa kalusugan ng mga frontliners.
 
Our Father is a forgiving God. Our lives have changed through the grace of the Resurrection.
 
A blessed Sunday to all.
 
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Artwork:
The Incredulity of St. Thomas (c. 1620)
by Bernardo Strozzi

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