SM Icons

Easter 2 Sunday C - Divine Mercy


Gospel reading: John 20:19-31

*******************************************************
Michel de Verteuil
General Comments
doubtersToday’s gospel reading, like all of St John’s gospel, is an interweaving of several themes. It is not possible to follow up all the themes together; we must focus on one at a time, going deeply into it and allowing it to reveal some deep truth about Jesus, about ourselves and about life.
Here I invite you to focus on the apostle Thomas; this is in accord with the Catholic Church’s liturgical tradition for the Second Sunday of Easter. Therefore, although the reading includes two of Jesus’ resurrection appearances – both of them deeply moving – we stay with the second, the dialogue between Jesus and Thomas, and let the earlier appearance  provide the context. We are free to identify either with Thomas or with Jesus, but not with both at the same time. We need to be clear on how we understand Thomas. The popular interpretation puts him in a bad light, as “doubting Thomas”. This however is not the movement of the text, which culminates in Thomas’ admirable act of faith, the most explicit in the New Testament – “My Lord and my God!”.
We are more in accord with the spirit of the text, therefore, when we look at Thomas as a model of faith. He was right to insist that before he could believe in Jesus’ resurrection he must see the holes the nails made in his hands, put his finger into the holes and his hand into the great wound made by the centurion’s lance.
Thomas teaches us the important lesson that we must not separate the resurrection from the cross, since we are called to be followers of Jesus. He also teaches us the truth of the Church and of our individual spiritual growth. We cannot live the life of grace, the “risen life”, authentically unless we bear in our bodies the wounds of the cross. This means being conscious that we develop the capacity to love and to be loved only by dying to ourselves. Our wounds are also a constant reminder of our frailty, and that it is God’s grace that raises us up to new life.
Resurrection and the crossSt Paul’s epistles show that the first Christians needed the corrective of Thomas’ faith. They tended to relate with the risen Jesus without reference to his crucifixion. They forgot that they were called to be “followers of Jesus crucified”, choosing to die with him so that they could rise with him (see especially 1 Corinthians 1).
We Christians fall into the same error today when our lives and our teachings proclaim an abstract “disembodied” Jesus, dispenser of graces and teacher of morality – we forget the historical person who was put to death for proclaiming the kingdom of God.
Thomas professes the true faith of the Church. We too must insist that the Jesus we follow is the true Jesus, the one whose risen body bears the wounds of Calvary.
Jesus is the model leader and spiritual guide. He is pleased to give Thomas the assurance he is looking for, and then challenges him to look forward to the day when he will believe without seeing – always in the Jesus who passes through death to resurrection.
The blessedness of believing without seeing came from the experience of the early Church. Jesus is not moralizing, but inviting Thomas – and us – to celebrate  great people of faith, in our local communities and world-wide, who take up their cross with confidence in the resurrection.
As always in our meditation we must not limit ourselves to personal relationships. We celebrate the resurrection faith lived by communities, nations and cultures.
Prayer reflection
“You who remain ever faithful even when we are unfaithful, forgive our sins and grant that we may bear true witness to you before all men and women.”      Pope John Paul II, Service of Forgiveness, March 2000
Lord, we thank you for the moments of grace of this Lenten season,
when – as individuals and as a Church community –
we walked in the footsteps of Jesus by passing from death to new life.
We thank you in particular for the great day when our Church publicly asked forgiveness from other religions and cultures.

We thank you for Pope John Paul who, like Jesus with St Thomas,
invited us to see the holes that the nails of arrogance and self-righteousness
had made in the body of Christ, and to put our fingers into the holes,
to put our hands into the huge wound which the lust for power has made in his side,
so that we could recognise how, just as you raised Jesus from the dead,
you do not allow his Body, the Church, to remain in the tomb,
but always raise her up to new life.
Lord, we thank you for the times when reconciliation emerged triumphantly
from the tomb of conflict:
– the spirit of dialogue between our Church and Jews, Muslims, Hindus,
and African traditional religions;
– the European Union created by former enemies;
– the Good Friday agreement in Northern Ireland;
– the peace process in the Middle East.
Lord, we thank you for the experience of the military in Iraq.
We pray that they will to hear your voice calling on them all
to remember those who have been hurt,
who still have holes that the nails made in their hands
and can put their finger into the holes they made,
and unless they can put their hands into their side, they will refuse to believe.
Do not let us forget the terrible legacy of hatred and resentment
which had to be overcome;
invite us to put our fingers into the holes made by nails,
our hands into the great wounds made by lances,
so that we can recognise with awe and wonder
the spark of your divine life that is within us all.
Remind us too of those who worked for peace during the long years of conflict
when it seemed that they were working in vain.
How blessed were they who did not see
and yet continued to believe in your power to bring new life into the world.
“Whoever sees anything of God, sees nothing of God .”     Meister Eckhart
Lord, lead us to the blessedness of not seeing and believing.
Go for broke, always try to do too much, dispense with safety nets, aim for the stars.”  …Salman Rushdie
Lord, we thank you for friends, leaders and spiritual guides
who challenge us as Jesus challenged Thomas.
When we commit ourselves to a cause because we have tested its reality, they invite us to experience the blessedness of believing without seeing.
“Beware of the seduction of leaving the poor to think about them.”  …Jean Vanier
Lord, forgive us that we want to help those in need without sharing their pain,
we look for their resurrection but do not want to see their wounds:
– young people have been deeply hurt and we serve them with pious exhortations;
– we become impatient with those who continue to mourn the death of a spouse or a child;
– we think we can restore a broken relationship by merely saying we are sorry;
– we propose reconciliation between warring factions without acknowledging  past wrongs;
– we pray for peace in the world and do not agonize over its terrible injustices.
We thank you for people like Thomas who will not let us get away with easy solutions;
they insist that we must see the holes that nails have made in the hands of victims,
put our fingers into the holes and our hands into wounds that lances have made in their sides,
and only then believe that they have within them the capacity to rise to new life.
We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being, the exact nature of our wrongs.” …Step 5 in the 12 Step Method of Alcoholics Anonymous
Lord, when we are converted from an addiction to alcohol, drugs, power or sex,
we are so anxious to make a new start
that we try to forget the hurt which was at the root of our problem
– the loneliness of our childhood
– the sense of racial inferiority
– our disability
– the fear of failure.
We thank you for sending us friends who insist
that we must face the reality of the past.
We pray that like Jesus welcoming Thomas,
we will invite them to put their fingers into the holes the nails have made
and their hands into our sides, so that they can walk with us in our new life.
*******************************************
Thomas O’Loughlin,
Introduction to the Celebration
happy those who hve not seenIn today’s gospel, St John tells us to about an appearance of the risen Christ to the disciples gathered together on a Sunday exactly a week after Easter. John sets the appearance of Jesus on a Sunday because he knows that that is the day when Christians gather for the Eucharist – a practice that marks us out to this day. So like those disciples we have gathered here for the Eucharist and Christ is now among us. We do not see him here today as on that first Sunday after Easter, but we recall the words Christ spoke on that occasion: ‘Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.’
Homily Notes

1. Belief in the risen Christ is about sacramental living: ‘happy are they who have not seen and yet believe: It is about dying and rising with Christ and becoming part of him, the church (CoI2:12) – the mystery of baptism; it is about gathering for his meal that transforms us from being individuals into being ‘one body for we all share in the one loaf’ (1 Cor 10:17) – the mystery of the Eucharist. Baptism is the sacrament of enter­ing, defining the bounds of the body; the Eucharist is the sacrament of sustaining, keeping the body in communion with Christ and between its parts. Both these aspects of the Paschal Mystery keep recurring in the liturgy; both sacra­ments are inextricably linked with one another, and have been since the earliest days.
growing deep2. However, while we may preach these links as abstract items of doctrine, in the minds of most people in the gathering today the two mysteries are as chalk and cheese. A ‘christ­ening’ is something that belongs to infants and lots of people have the children christened because that’s what you do – in all likelihood everyone in the congregation has been to one such ceremony. And, while it ‘makes you a Christian’ or ‘a Catholic/ this is recalled primarily as a social bonding. The Mass, by contrast, is something you go to each week ‘if you are religious/ and it is about praying, getting communion (optional), and about ‘getting thoughts of the week’. The ministry of preaching has to try to permeate these percep­tions and reveal the deeper dimensions of religious practice, and so highlight the core content of Christian faith. Actions tend to break through the crusts of tacitly held perceptions with a far greater effect than formal verbal teaching or preaching (recalling that part of the perception of preaching for many is that it is irrelevant or ‘goes over their heads’).

3. This could be done by having an infant baptism on this day ­the people who are practising and away from the parish on Easter Night may now be back and so can have their baptism today – at the Eucharist. Or, at the very least, by using today (as on Easter Sunday) the Renewal of Baptismal Promises (Miss at pp. 220-221) instead of a declaratory confession of faith. This activity, the baptism or the renewal of promises, brings the mysteries together visibly – and not just on that most special night (the Easter Vigil) but at a regular Sunday gathering.
4. Then taking the cue from the gospel, that the Sunday gather­ing around the Lord’s Table for the Lord’s Supper has been a fundamental activity of Christians from the start (long before we had any of the writings now called the New Testament), then make the gathering a real, physical gathering around the table, with a real fraction, and communion under both species from one cup.
5. The fact that the assembly have to engage in the ritual in these unusual ways, not just listening to a homily, may help them engage with the mysteries they are celebrating.
**********************************
3. Sean Goan
Gospel: John 19-31
Sun EUCHIn this very packed gospel many different facets of the Easter mystery are presented. Firstly, we note that Jesus appears to the community gathered on a Sunday, they rejoice at his presence and experience through him the gift of the Holy Spirit and are given a mission, sent just as Jesus himself was. That is as good a summary of what Sunday Eucharist is all about as you will ever find. Joy in the presence of the risen Lord who gives us his peace so that we can continue his task of revealing God to the world. Thankfully Thomas is missing, because his refusal to believe means that the following Sunday we need to gather again, and once again as a community of faith encounter Christ among us. Now, by a wonderful irony it is Thomas who leads us in our appropriate response as we acknowledge Jesus as Our Lord and Our God.

Reflection
Early Christian JewsOur readings for today, while they differ greatly in style, both reflect the extent to which the early church understood itself as totally dependent on the presence of the risen Christ within it. The first believers in Jerusalem were Jewish yet they stood out among their own people because of the witness that they offered. They impressed people with their care for one another and their prayerfulness. So too among the churches of the book of Revelation the faithful stood out from their contemporaries because, even when faced with persecution, their lives were characterised by hope and love. These are the fruits of Easter and remind us that we must celebrate as a community, and not only as individual the abiding presence of Jesus as our Lord and God.

Early Christian Jews
****************************************************
4. Donal Neary S.J.
Gospel reflections

Only faith
Jesus spoke in short sentences and summed up a lot of life in a few words. His final beatitude is in the gospel today – Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe. You can unpack that little phrase and in it you realise that faith is about things that cannot be proved, that it is not easy and that it brings a blessedness to life. It also includes ourselves – the ones of this year who still believe.

faith 2Something is only by faith when everything else fades off. Our loved ones die and only faith assures us that they are alive with God. Only faith assures us that Jesus is present in the mystery of the bread and wine at our Mass. Only faith assures us that he is with us when two or three gather and only faith assures us that what we do for others we do for him. Faith assures us of some of the best things of life; finally that we come from God and go to God.
Thomas found difficulty with all this. Jesus dealt gently with him, pointing out the wounds of his body and inviting him to touch them. But Thomas never needed to touch the holes in Jesus’ hands and feet. He was told that an even better happiness was to believe without touch or sight. He found faith now in the risen Lord, and the faith itself was Jesus7 final gift to Thomas.
We need to take time and let faith grow within us. This can be in prayer, in faith-conversation and in allowing ourselves sit quietly and be in the presence of God. In the busy world, this may be difficult, but no day is diminished by time spent in silence and in quiet, knowing we are richly blessed when we grow our faith in God.
****
From the Connections:
 
THE WORD:
The Gospel for the Second Sunday of Easter (for all three years of the Lectionary cycle) is Act 2 of John’s Easter drama.
   
Scene 1 takes place on Easter night.  The terrified disciples are huddled together, realizing that they are marked men because of their association with the criminal Jesus.  The Risen Jesus appears in their midst with his greeting of “peace.”  John clearly has the Genesis story in mind when the evangelist describes Jesus as “breathing” the Holy Spirit on his disciples:  Just as God created man and woman by breathing life into them (Genesis 2: 7), the Risen Christ re-creates humankind by breathing the new life of the Holy Spirit upon the eleven.
In scene 2, the disciples excitedly tell the just-returned Thomas of what they had seen.  Thomas responds to the news with understandable skepticism.  Thomas had expected the cross (see John 11: 16 and 14: 5) -- and no more.
The climactic third scene takes place one week later, with Jesus’ second appearance to the assembled community -- this time with Thomas present.  He invites Thomas to examine his wounds and to “believe.”  Christ’s blessing in response to Thomas’ profession of faith exalts the faith of every Christian of every age who “believes without seeing”; all Christians who embrace the Spirit of the Risen One possess a faith that is in no way different less than that of the first disciples.  The power of the Resurrection transcends time and place.

HOMILY POINTS:
We trace our roots as parish and faith communities to Easter night when Jesus “breathed” his spirit of peace and reconciliation upon his frightened disciples, transforming them into the new Church.
The peace of the Risen Christ is more than just the absence of conflict, more than just the quiet, unchallenged acceptance of another’s heartless behavior or selfish expectations.  Christ’s peace is the hard work of loving when it is most difficult to love, of putting aside one’s own disappointments and doubts for the sake of the common good, of forgiving when we are too angry or disappointed, of reaching out even when we are sure we will be rebuffed or rejected. 
Jesus’ entrusting to the disciples the work of forgiveness is what it means to be the church: to accept one another, to affirm one another, to support one another as God has done for us in the Risen Christ.  What brought the apostles and first Christians together as a community -- unity of heart, missionary witness, prayer, reconciliation and healing -- no less powerfully binds us to one another as the Church of today.
All of us, at one time or another, experience the doubt and skepticism of Thomas:  Thomas neither doubts nor rejects: he recognizes that each one of us possesses, within ourselves, the grace to seek God and discover for ourselves the truth about what God is doing in our lives.  True faith is not passive acquiescence to a set of dogmas; faith is to be actively engaged in seeking God’s presence in every facet of our life, to be open in mind and heart to identify signs of resurrection and re-creation in our midst.
We all have scars from our own Good Fridays that remain long after our own experiences of resurrection.  Our “nail marks” remind us that all pain and grief, all ridicule and suffering are transformed into healing and peace in the love of God we experience from others and that we extend them. 

Faith of which I’m certain . . .
Two times two is four; two times three is six; two times four is eight . . ­— of that, I am positive. 
When I put gasoline in my gas tank, my car will run ­— that I know.
When I strike a certain combination of keys on the piano, I create music — I’ve learned how to do that.
In such knowledge and experience there is certainty.
Real certainty does not require hope.  I don’t need to “hope” two and two equals four.  But I do need to hope that my belief —well-founded, to be sure — that my spouse loves me is grounded in reality and is not an illusion.  Some might argue that my spouse’s love for me is something I want to believe in, to console myself in this lonely life.  I might not be able to conclusively disprove this — but I believe I have quite solid grounds to believe in the reality of my spouse’s love for me, a love that transcends feelings, feelings which may vary from day to day.
Many nonbelievers equate faith with certainty, or with a desire for explanations: how the world came to be, why the good suffer, what we are here for.  And some who consider themselves “believers” make superstitious use of religion — but few serious believers think of faith that way. 
For men and women of “faith,” real faith is a perception, a way of looking at life, a form of gratitude — and very far from anything like explanation or certainty.  Faith is the hope that God’s love is different, that whatever our limited love may be, God’s love is perfect, complete, unconditional.  God’s love shows itself in the covenant with Israel, in the Incarnation, in Jesus’ teaching and death for us, in the hope of resurrection, in what we are asked to become. 
Our relationship with all of this has to do with hope, not certainty; our faith is an ability to see and hear and behold our life and our world that enables us, in the midst of doubts and uncertainty, to trust.
[From “Reasons for Our Hope” by John Garvey, Commonweal, August 15, 2008.]

In today’s Gospel, Thomas is looking for certainty, but Jesus offers him something else: a reason to hope, a base line for belief, a prism for looking at the world with gratitude for what has been and what will be.  The Risen One is the manifestation of such promise and hope: that we are loved, that our lives matter, that we are becoming the people God made us to be.  Oh, there are our “Thomas” moments of doubt when we are not sure where or how to proceed, when we question our own motives and the motives of others, when all seems lost and pointless.  But the gift of faith is the ability to hope that we can transform and remake, re-create and re-focus, our lives in the love of God and in the life of the Risen Christ.  May this Easter, especially in these difficult times, illuminate our spirits with the light of such hope.   
***
From Fr. Jude Botelho:

Everything that happens evokes a response. What is your personal response to the Resurrection? A man fell in a ditch. Realist: That's a ditch. Optimist: Things will get better. Pessimist: Things will get worse. Newspaper reporter: I will pay you for an exclusive story about life in the ditch. City: Did you get a permit for your ditch life? Mathematician: I will calculate the length and depth and width of the ditch. Income tax agent: Have you paid your taxes for the ditch? A Man: "Give me your hand!" and his name is Jesus of Divine Mercy.
Have a faith-filled Divine Mercy Sunday!

                            

 

The first reading from the Acts of the Apostles describes the salient features of the early Christian community. The Acts tell us that, soon after the resurrection more and more believers were added to the Lord. It should be noted that the text says 'these were added to their number', which suggests that it was not the apostles, but God who added to their number. It was God's work and not men's efforts that caused the multitude to join their ranks. Many signs and marvels were worked at the hands of the apostles not by their own power but by the Risen Lord who was alive in their midst. Jesus is always alive in His Church and it is He who grants the increase and He who is the heart of the living Church. It is said an empty tomb proves Christianity, an empty Church is denied it.

Harmony in Community
It is interesting to note how the town of Harmony, U.S.A. came by its name: the citizens called a meeting to decide on a name. Although many names were suggested, no agreement could be reached and the discussion became heated and noisy. Disgusted by the way things were going, one man jumped up and shouted, "Gentlemen, please! Let us have harmony." To his amazement, everyone liked the word and shouted back, "Yes, Let's have Harmony!"
J Maurus in 'A Source-book of Inspiration'

The episode of Thomas missing the first apparition of the risen Lord is exclusive to the gospel of John. Every one tends to focus on Thomas, the doubter, but the fact is that almost everyone had doubts about the risen Lord and was as doubting as Thomas! They could not believe that he was alive, so Jesus had to be patient with them and give them signs in his many apparitions to them. In this episode Jesus comes to the frightened disciples and shows his pierced hands and feet and offers them his peace. The apostles are filled with joy but still have their doubts and fears, so he reassures them, "Peace be with you!" After giving them his Spirit of peace, the risen Lord sends them out on a mission to go and share his peace and forgiveness with others. We are all called to be his witnesses and channels of peace and forgiveness. If we cannot forgive we cannot receive his peace. Thomas, we are told, was not present when the Lord appeared to the disciples and when told of the Lord's appearance he voices his doubts strongly. "Unless I see the holes that the nails have made and put my hand into his side I refuse to believe!" We may judge Thomas harshly for his doubts but often we do the same and put terms and conditions for our belief. The risen Lord was patient and took Thomas at his word and appeared to him and asked him to see and feel for himself. “Doubt no longer but believe." God treats us likewise. He comes down to our level and acts on our terms. But the challenge is to believe without proof, for that, after all, is the basis of faith. God gives us no proofs but plenty of signs of his presence and love. Can we like Thomas cry out: "My Lord and my God!"

An invasion of privacy
Every Sunday morning, the people of a church in the Pacific Northwest say, "Peace be with you." They begin the worship service with a hymn of praise. The people confess their sins together, and then they are invited to pass the peace. It has become an exuberant moment in an otherwise sober occasion. Friends leave their pews to embrace one another. Newcomers are warmly welcomed with a kind word or a hug. Nobody thought much about the weekly ritual until the pastor received a letter from a man who had recently joined the congregation. The new member was a promising young lawyer. He drafted a brief but pointed letter. "I am writing to complain about the congregational ritual known as 'passing the peace,'" he wrote. "I am prepared to take legal action to cause this practice to cease." When the pastor phoned and asked why the man was so disturbed, the lawyer said, "The passing of the peace is an invasion of my privacy." Perhaps that story could only happen in the 1990s. These are strange times. To that end, I think the pastor's response to the lawyer was right on target. He said, "Like it or not, when you joined the church you gave up some of your privacy, for we believe in a risen Lord who will never leave us alone." Then he added, "You never know when Jesus Christ will intrude on us with a word of peace."
William Carter in 'Water won't quench the fire'

"It's time to get up!"
Winston Churchill had planned his funeral, which took place in Saint Paul's Cathedral. He included many of the great hymns of the church, and used the eloquent Anglican liturgy. At his direction, a bugler, positioned high in the dome of Saint Paul's, intoned, after the benediction, the sound of Taps, the universal signal that says the day is over. But then came the most dramatic turn: As Churchill instructed, as soon as Taps was finished, another bugler, placed on the other side of the great dome, played the notes of Reveille - It's time to get up. It's time to get up. It's time to get up in the morning. That was Churchill's testimony that at the end of history, the last note will not be Taps, it will be Reveille. The worst things are never the last things.
John Claypool in 'Leadership'

I have no hands but yours…

There was a poor peasant family that had worked for several years scrimping and saving to buy a piece of land of its own. Finally the day came and they took possession of it. The mother and half dozen children gathered in the two room shack that would serve as their home, while the father walked the length and breadth of their land. He paced it out marking the four corners as boundaries, praying in joy and thanksgiving as he walked. As he rounded the last corner and laid a stone in place he noticed something sticking out from under a bush. He bent and scratched the earth, digging with his hands and soon unearthed the corpus from a crucifix. It has obviously been in the ground for some time. Its hands and arms were gone and its feet and legs missing. It was mangled, scratched, cracked and the paint nearly gone. He picked it up and carried it back in his arms to the house and laid it on the table. The family stood around it looking at it in an awkward silence. The father explained that he had found it on their land. It was the first thing he dug out of their ground. What should they do with it? Should they take it to the Church and give it to the padre? Should they burn it? Should they bury it again? They all stood and looked at it. Finally the youngest spoke: "Father I have an idea, why don't we hang it in the kitchen and put a sign underneath it? The father asked: "What would you put on the sign?" There was a long silence and the corpus was hung with care on the white washed wall of the kitchen and a small piece of paper was tacked underneath by the little child. It read: "Jesus has no hands and feet. Will you lend him yours?"
Megan McKenna in 'Lent -The Sunday Readings'

We doubt in order to be certain
One Saturday night, around 10.00pm, the pastor of Almighty God Parish Church was trying to call his friend, but his friend did not answer the phone. He thought it odd that his friend would not answer while he was sure he was at home. He tried to call again after a few minutes and his friend answered right away. He asked why he had not answered before, and the latter said that the phone hadn't rung. They brushed it off anyway and continued with their chat. The following Monday the pastor received a call. The man that he spoke with wanted to know why he had called him on Saturday night. The pastor could not figure out what the guy was talking about. Then the guy said, "It rang and rang, but I didn't answer." Then the pastor remembered and apologized for disturbing him, explaining that he had intended to call his friend. The man said, "That's ok. Let me tell you my story. You see, I was planning to commit suicide on Saturday night, but before I did, I prayed, "God if you are there, and you don't want me to do this, give me a sign now." At that point my phone started to ring. I looked up the caller ID, and it said, 'Almighty God'. I was afraid to answer."
John Pichappilly in 'The Table of the Word'

Doubt no longer but believe!
In 1879, Leo Tolstoy, famous Russian novelist, was 51 years of age. He had every reason to be satisfied with life and be proud of his personal achievements. After all, he was author of two classic novels -War and Peace and Anna Karenina. So outstanding were these novels that even if Tolstoy had written nothing more, he would still be remembered and hailed as one of the greatest novelists the world had ever known. However, Leo Tolstoy admits he was always haunted by the nagging question: "Is there any meaning in life that will not be destroyed by death?" Earlier, Tolstoy had abandoned his Christian faith disillusioned by the hypocrisy of some who did not practice what they preached. His search drove him to such desperation that he even contemplated suicide. But at this crucial juncture he realized that the truths of Christianity were the most sensible and he was once again drawn to them, as to a magnet. "I thought that there was no sure truth in life. But then I found a sure source of light. I found it in the Gospel, and was dazzled by its splendour. In the teachings of Jesus, I found the purest and most complete doctrine of life."
Valladares J. in 'Your Words, O Lord, Are Spirit, and They Are Life'
Cosmic Union and Christic Communion
In his autobiography, Mahatma Gandhi narrates how, as a student in South Africa, he read the Bible and was fascinated by the person of Christ. He believed that Christianity was the best antidote for the caste system in India, and even considered converting to Christianity. However, on one of visits to a church he was shown the door and told he could only attend Mass in a church reserved for blacks. He left, never to return. Even though Christianity preaches love and equality, we have built churches dividing whites and blacks in South Africa and so called ‘high’ and ‘low castes’ in India. But, is there any ‘model church’ we can emulate in designing Christian communities for our times? The first line of the first reading tells us: “The whole group of believers was united, heart and soul; no one claimed for one’s own use anything that one had, as everything they owned was held in common.” We are called to be witnesses to communion.
Francis Gonsalves in ‘Sunday Seeds for Daily Deeds’
 
The post-resurrection appearance of Jesus Christ starts with the fact that the disciples are huddled behind closed doors fearful of what might happen to them, now that their master has gone. The have closed the doors and yet Jesus comes through the barrier they have created and stands in their midst. “Peace be to you!" Is his first greeting.  No matter what we have done, He comes to bring us peace. He comes to fill us with his Spirit, the Spirit of new hope, the Spirit of joy. The second focus of the Gospel is on Thomas, one of the twelve, who was not present when the Lord appeared to the rest and who begins to question and doubt the Risen Lord's presence. He goes further than that, he demands proof. Many of us could easily identify with Thomas the doubter. We miss out on the gifts that the Lord freely gives. Our faith is shaken and we demand proofs. The Lord giving in to the demands of doubting Thomas comes to him on his terms. “Here I am Thomas! Put your finger into the holes the nails have made. Put your hand into the wound in my side!  Doubt no longer but believe."  Thomas's response is an act of faith: “My Lord and my God!"  Jesus' response to Thomas is one that is relevant to all of us who have doubts from time to time. “Thomas, you believe because you can see me. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe!" There will be times in our lives, when we will demand proof from God, when we will ask for signs from Him, when we want to feel his presence when we feel forsaken. It is at these times that we are called to believe though we don't see, though we don't feel His loving presence. “Doubt No longer but believe!"

Doubting Thomasses
The doubting Thomas saga is often glibly used to dismiss even the most reasonable reservations about a project. Of course, it is frequently invoked by people who have long forgotten its gospel origin. Thomas is in the not uncommon situation of being remembered for his limitations rather than for his finer qualities. He was the courageous one who suggested that all the disciples should go and die with the Lord in Jerusalem when danger threatened the Master. He was honest and open in saying that he did not understand a word when Jesus was talking about being the way to the Father. But it is for his unwillingness to believe in the resurrection of Jesus that he has gone down in history. Yet, his hesitancy was understandable. The others believed because they had been in the presence of the risen Lord. Without this personal experience they would not have been convinced. Despite his doubting, once he dramatically accepted the fact that Jesus was risen, Thomas committed his whole life to believing in the Lord and to sharing this treasure with the world. Our times need many Thomases!
Tom Clancy in ‘Living the Word’
 
Nurture new life
In 1910 a young explorer was travelling in the French Alps when he came upon a wasteland, a barren stretch of land desolate and abandoned. He had travelled about five miles into this God-forsaken territory when in the distance he saw what looked like the stump of a tree. On approaching, he discovered the stooped figure of a little old man with a sack of acorns on his back and an iron staff in his hand. With the staff he made a hole in the ground, dropped in an acorn and filled the hole. He was planting oak trees. He told the explorer that he had planted 100,000 in the past three years. “If I get one in ten, I’ll be happy,” he said, adding that his wife and only son had died and that as long as the Lord spared him he would carry on planting trees to bring back life to a land that was dying. Fifty years later the explorer returned to a sight wondrous to behold. The acorns of 1910 had become an oak forest, eleven kilometres long by three kilometres wide. There were beech trees along the slopes as far as the eyes could see. Birds were singing in the trees, wildlife frolicked in the shade and streams flowed with water in groves that has been bone dry. At the entrance to the forest was a linden tree, the symbol of re-birth. And as he gazed in wonder he thought of the old unlettered peasant who had worked alone in utter solitude to turn a desert into the land of Canaan and had completed a task worthy of God. We may not be able to change the world but we can do something about the little patch where we live. The sack of acorns and the iron staff are in our hands.
James Feeban in ‘Story Power’
 
Happy are those who have not seen, yet believe.
“I remember one occasion when I led a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. One of the young men in the group was quite mentally limited, although his grasp of God, of Jesus, and the events of the gospel was uncanny. We arrived at the tomb of the basilica, and we joined the long line, waiting our turn to enter. One lady came out of the tomb, and was obviously deeply touched by the experience of her visit to such a sacred spot. She sat down outside the entrance, took out a tissue, and began wiping her tears. My friend, who was back in the line, spotted what was happening, and responded instantly. He ran straight up to her, put his hand on her shoulder and said, “Don’t be crying, It’s Ok. He’s alive; don’t you know that?” The whole thing was so spontaneous and genuine that the woman stood up, and gave him a warm hug. The simple fact was that he could not understand how anybody could be crying at this tomb, of all the tombs in the world. -Jesus thanked the father for giving a message that was so simple and straightforward that the intellectual and the worldly-wise would fail to grasp it, and yet it could be fully accepted by someone with the mind of a child. Happy are they who have not seen yet believe…”
Jack McArdle in ‘And that’s the Gospel Truth!’
 
Showing them his wounds
His Holiness Pope John Pail II passed away on 2nd April 2005. He shepherded the Catholic Church for nearly twenty-seven years. He cheated death many times. At the beginning of his pontificate, an attempt of assassination was made on him (1981). He had colon cancer in 1992; he suffered shoulder and hip injuries in 1992 and 1993; he had his appendix removed in 1996, and in 2001 it was confirmed that he suffered from Parkinson’s disease. Towards the end of his life, he was visibly in pain, but he united it with the sufferings of Christ, and bore with it with extraordinary serenity.  One day, while he was giving a press conference, one reporter asked him, “Holy Father, kindly excuse me for being bold. You are aged, your hands are shaking due to Parkinson’s disease, your voice is feeble and inaudible, and you find it difficult to walk. You are suffering a lot and you are incapacitated in your work. Why don’t you resign and take rest, and make way for the others to take over?  The Holy Father said, “If Jesus had come down from the cross, I, too, would have resigned. Since, He remained on the cross and suffered, I too, am holding on to my responsibility, and am suffering.”  The suffering, which the Pope was undergoing, was because he loved Christ and the people whom Christ had entrusted to him. The Holy Father’s sufferings were the tokens of his love.
John Rose in ‘John’s Sunday Homilies’
 
Resurrection and economics….
The Christian faith has profound economic implications. Any preaching of the Good News that shuns this reality denies the Gospel and Jesus’ teaching. In Acts we see that one of the strong witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection is the way his disciples order their economic lives. Resurrection and economics have spiritual connections to how the Church lives out its mission and are key to the Church’s involvement in peace and justice ministry. Acts 4 is about resurrection power in our living and our economics. Resurrection in Acts is not so much a doctrine to be believed as a power to be experienced. Trying to prove the historicity of the resurrection may distract us from discovering this power in our lives as we engage the powers of domination today. The early Church community lived out this resurrection power in the way they arranged their lives, their relationships to one another, and their economics. The Church today needs to experience this kind of resurrection power if we are going to be an effective presence in a world torn apart by violence, poverty, greed, and fear. One of the first important signs of resurrection power in the early Church was the strong sense of community.
Larry Hollar in ‘Hunger for the Word’

****
From Fr.. Tony Kadavil:

1) "Well, then, I will have mercy."
Emperor Napoleon was moved by a mother's plea for pardon for her soldier son. However, the emperor said that since it was the man’s second major offense, justice demanded death. "I do not ask for justice," implored the mother, "I plead for mercy." "But," said the emperor, "he does not deserve mercy." "Sir," cried the mother, "it would not be mercy if he deserved it, and mercy is all I ask for." The compassion and clarity of the mother's logic prompted Napoleon to respond, "Well, then, I will have mercy." The Second Sunday of the Easter season invites us to reflect on God’s infinite love and mercy for His people, as detailed in the Bible and as lived and taught by Jesus, and to practice the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

2) St. Faustina and the Image of the Divine Mercy:
St. Faustina of Poland is the well known apostle of Divine Mercy. On the 30th of April, 2000, the Second Sunday of Easter, at 10:00 a.m., His Holiness Pope John Paul II celebrated the Eucharist in Saint Peter’s Square and proceeded to the canonization of Blessed Sister FAUSTINA. The new Saint invites us by the witness of her life to keep our faith and hope fixed on God, the Father, rich in mercy, who saved us by the precious blood of His Son. During her short life, the Lord Jesus assigned St. Faustina three basic tasks: 1. to pray for souls, entrusting them to God's incomprehensible Mercy; 2. to tell the world about God's Generous Mercy; 3. to start a new movement in the Church focusing on God's Mercy. At the canonization of Sr. Faustina, Pope John Paul II said: “The cross, even after the Resurrection of the Son of God, speaks and never ceases to speak of God the Father, who is absolutely faithful to His eternal love for man....

Believing in this love means believing in mercy." “The Lord of Divine Mercy” a drawing of Jesus based on the vision given to St. Faustina, shows Jesus raising his right hand in a gesture of blessing, with his left hand on his chest from which gush forth two rays, one red and one white. The picture contains the message "Jesus, I trust in You!" (Jezu ufam Tobie). The rays streaming out have symbolic meaning: red for the blood of Jesus, which is the life of souls and white for the water which justifies souls. The whole image is symbolic of the mercy, forgiveness and love of God.

3) Mayor’s mercy:
One night in 1935, Fiorello H. La Guardia, mayor of New York, showed up at a night court in the poorest ward of the city. He dismissed the judge for the evening and took over the bench. One case involved an elderly woman who was caught stealing bread to feed her grandchildren. La Guardia said, "I've got to punish you. Ten dollars or ten days in jail."

As he spoke, he threw $10 into his hat. He then fined everyone in the courtroom 50 cents for living in a city "where an old woman had to steal bread so that her grandchildren should not starve." The hat was passed around, and the woman left the courtroom with her fine paid and an additional $47.50.

4) Traffic cop’s mercy:
A priest was forced, by a traffic police, to pull over for speeding. As the cop was about to write the ticket, the priest said to him, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." The cop handed the priest the ticket, and said, "Go, and sin no more."

5) Photographer’s mercy:
The story is told of a politician who, after receiving the proofs of a picture, was very angry with the photographer. He stormed back to the man's studio and screamed at him: "This picture does not do me justice!" The photographer replied, "Sir, with a face like yours, what you need is mercy, not justice!"

6)  Divine Mercy in action:
A TIME magazine issue in 1984 presented a startling cover. It pictured a prison cell where two men sat on metal folding chairs. The young man wore a black turtleneck sweater, blue jeans and white running shoes. The older man was dressed in a white robe and had a white skullcap on his head. They sat facing one another,  up-close and personal. They spoke quietly so as to keep others from hearing the conversation. The young man was Mehmet Ali Agca, the pope’s would-be assassin (he shot and wounded the Pope on May 13, 1981); the other man was Pope John Paul II, the intended victim. The Pope held the hand that had held the gun whose bullet tore into the Pope’s body. This was a living icon of mercy. John Paul’s forgiveness was deeply Christian. His deed with Ali Agca spoke a thousand words. He embraced his enemy and pardoned him. At the end of their 20-minute meeting, Ali Agca raised the Pope’s hand to his forehead as a sign of respect. John Paul shook Ali Agca’s hand tenderly. When the Pope left the cell he said, “What we talked about must remain a secret between us. I spoke to him as a brother whom I have pardoned and who has my complete trust.” This is an example of God’s Divine Mercy, the same Divine Mercy whose message St. Faustina witnessed.

More From Fr Tony Kadavil's Collection:

1. Mercy during tragedy: The news is filled with illustrations of mercy—or the need for mercy—in our world. One of the most moving stories came to us on October 6, 2006, when an armed man entered an Amish schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. He chased out the little boys and lined up the 10 little girls in front of the blackboard. He shot all of them and then killed himself. Five of the girls died. After the medics and police left, the families of the fallen came and carried their slain children home. They removed their bloody clothes and washed the bodies. They sat for a time and mourned their beloved children. After a while they walked to the home of the man who killed their children. They told his widow they forgave her husband for what he had done, and they consoled her for the loss of her spouse. They buried their anger before they buried their children. Amish Christians teach us that forgiveness is central. They believe in a real sense that God’s forgiveness of themselves depends on their extending forgiveness to other people. That’s what the mercy of God is all about. That mercy is why we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday. (Rev. Alfred McBride, O.Praem: Catholic Update – March 2008).

2: Divine Mercy in action: The TIME Magazine January 9, 1984 cover showed a prison cell where two men sat on metal folding chairs. The young man wore a blue turtleneck sweater, blue jeans and white running shoes. The older man was dressed in a white robe and had a white skullcap on his head. They sat facing one another, up-close and personal. They spoke quietly so as to keep others from hearing the conversation. The young man was Mehmet Ali Agca, the pope’s would-be assassin (he shot and wounded the Pope on May 13, 1981); the other man was Pope St. John Paul II, the intended victim. The Pope held the hand that had held the gun whose bullet had torn into the Pope’s body. This was a living icon of mercy. John Paul’s forgiveness was deeply Christian. His deed with Ali Agca spoke a thousand words. He embraced his enemy and pardoned him. At the end of their 20-minute meeting, Ali Agca raised the Pope’s hand to his forehead as a sign of respect. John Paul shook Ali Agca’s hand tenderly. When the Pope left the cell he said, “What we talked about must remain a secret between us. I spoke to him as a brother whom I have pardoned and who has my complete trust.” This is an example of God’s Divine Mercy, the same Divine Mercy Jesus spelled out to us through St. Faustina. (http://www.americancatholic.org/Newsletters/CU/ac0308.asp)

3: St. Faustina and the Image of the Divine Mercy: St. Faustina of Poland is the well-known apostle of Divine Mercy. At 10:00 AM, April 30, 2000, the Second Sunday of Easter, His Holiness Pope St. John Paul II celebrated the Eucharist in Saint Peter’s Square and canonized Blessed Sister Faustina. That day was Divine Mercy Sunday, the Feast requested by Jesus in His communications with St. Faustina. [John Paul himself would be canonized on this same Feast Day, April 27 in 2014, by Pope Francis.] Saint Faustina invites us by the witness of her life to keep our Faith and Hope fixed on God the Father, rich in mercy, who saved us by the precious Blood of His Son.  During her short life, the Lord Jesus assigned to St. Faustina three basic tasks: 1. to pray for souls, entrusting them to God’s incomprehensible Mercy; 2. to tell the world about God’s generous Mercy; 3. to start a new movement in the Church focusing on God’s Mercy. At the canonization of St. Faustina, Pope St. John Paul II said: “The cross, even after the Resurrection of the Son of God, speaks, and never ceases to speak, of God the Father, who is absolutely faithful to His eternal love for man. … Believing in this love means believing in mercy.”  “The Lord of Divine Mercy,” a drawing of Jesus based on the vision given to St. Faustina, shows Jesus raising his right hand in a gesture of blessing, with His left hand on his heart from which gush forth two rays, one red and one white. The picture contains the message, “Jesus, I trust in You!” (Jezu ufam Tobie). The rays streaming out have symbolic meaning: red for the Blood of Jesus, which is the life of souls and white for the Baptismal water which justifies souls. The whole image is symbolic of the mercy, forgiveness and love of God. 

4) Traffic cop’s mercy:  A priest was forced by a police officer to pull over for speeding.  As the officer was about to write the ticket, the priest said to him, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” The police officer handed the priest the ticket, and said, “Go, and sin no more.”

5) Photographer’s mercy: The story is told of a politician who, after receiving the proofs of a picture, was very angry with the photographer.  He stormed back to the man’s studio and screamed at him: “This picture does not do me justice!” The photographer replied, “Sir, with a face like yours, what you need is mercy, not justice!” 

21 Additional anecdotes:

1: Law vs MercyIn Reader’s Digest, Jim Williams of Montana, writes: “I was driving too fast late one night when I saw the flashing lights of a police car in my rearview mirror. As I pulled over and rolled down my window of my station wagon, I tried to dream up an excuse for my haste. But when the patrolman reached the car, he said nothing. Instead, he merely shined his flashlight in my face, then on my seven-month-old in his car seat, then on our three other children, who were asleep, and lastly on the two dogs in the very back of the car. Returning the beam of light to my face, he then uttered the only words of the encounter. “’Son,’ he said, ‘you can’t afford a ticket. Slow down.’” And with that, he returned to his car and drove away.” Sometimes mercy triumphs over law. So it is for sinners who call out to Jesus.” (Sent by Fr. pgolden@richmondcathedral.org on March 1, 2013).

2) Baseball player experiences Divine Mercy: During Babe Ruth’s baseball career, he drifted away from his Faith. One night he was very ill in a New York hospital, and a friend suggested he makes his peace with God. As a result, Babe Ruth asked to see a priest. After celebrating the sacrament of Reconciliation, Babe Ruth wrote:

“As I lay in bed that evening, I thought to myself – what a comfortable feeling to be free from fear and worries. I could simply turn them over to God.” Wow! What an expression of Trust in God’s Love and Mercy.

3) “Everybody is somebody” because of Divine Mercy: On 11th April 2009, the woman ruling the British Empire wasn’t Queen Elizabeth. It was a 47-year-old unemployed spinster named Susan Boyle. A lot of you probably know her story. Susan grew up in a small town in Scotland, a devout Catholic, the youngest of nine children. She had learning difficulties when she was a child, and the other children often made fun of her. She lived at home all her life, never married — “never been kissed,” as she puts it – and she spent her time caring for her mother and father and attending Mass every day. She also liked to sing in her church choir. As she grew up, and grew older, she put up with taunts from local school children, who made fun of her eccentric ways and her frizzy hair and frumpy clothes. But Susan’s mother knew that her daughter had something special to give. Susan had a powerful singing voice, and her mother always encouraged her to do something with it. After her mother died, Susan grieved for almost two years, before finally summoning the courage to do what her mother had always wanted her to do. Susan won a slot on a British TV talent show. Last Saturday night, the night before Easter, millions of Britons watched as she shuffled awkwardly onto the stage — this middle-aged out-of-work woman with uncombed hair and an unglamorous face. The audience laughed and some rolled their eyes.

But then she opened her mouth to sing. “I Dreamed A Dream,” she sang. Watch her performance: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnn6mShs1P8). And she did it in a voice that was powerful, and clear, and even thrilling. After the first few bars, the audience was on its feet, cheering. It was, literally, the performance of a lifetime. Susan Boyle became an overnight sensation. In just one week, the video of her appearance has been viewed nearly 20 million times around the world on YouTube. She’s appeared on talk shows, been interviewed by papers and magazines. Oprah has invited her on to be a guest. “I did this,“ Susan told a reporter, “for my late mother. I wanted to show her I could do something with my life.” I thought of Susan Boyle on Wednesday, when Archbishop Timothy Dolan climbed the pulpit at St. Patrick’s at his installation Mass and declared in his first homily: “Everybody is somebody.” Susan Boyle certainly proved that. No matter what others may think, the beautiful truth is that everyone carries the spark of the Divine. Every life has meaning and dignity. Everybody is somebody.

4) Divine mercy experience of Rev. Fr. James Alberione. The founder of the religious congregation to which I belong is Rev. Fr. James Alberione. A holy man with a prophetic vision, he harnessed the pastoral potentiality of the modern means of communication at the service of evangelization. The Holy Father, Pope St. John Paul II will beatify him today – April 27, 2003 – in Rome. Fr. Alberione founded five religious congregations, four aggregated Institutes, and the Association of Pauline Cooperators, all of which comprise the “Pauline Family”. In 1923, he was struck down with a serious illness that led him into a kind of crisis about the future of the religious family launched just a few years earlier. He needed some kind of assurance in the midst of uncertainties. He looked for confirmation in the most difficult moment of his life. The Divine Master kindheartedly obliged by appearing to him in a dream, assuring him of His Divine assistance and presence. Here is Fr. Alberione’s personal account of that awesome experience. In a particularly difficult moment, reexamining all his ways of doing things to see if there might perhaps be impediments to the action of grace on his part, it seems that the Divine Master may have wanted to reassure the Institute that had only gotten underway a few years before. In a subsequent dream, he had what seemed to him to be a reply. Jesus, the Master, in fact, said to him: “Fear not. I am with you. From here I will enlighten. Have a contrite heart.” The “from here” came forth from the tabernacle; and with power, such as to make one understand that from Him, the Master, must one receive all enlightenment. He spoke of this with his spiritual director, noting in what light the figure of the Master had been enveloped. His reply to me was: “Be at peace; dream or otherwise, what was said is holy; make it a practical program of life and of light for yourself and for all members.” From that point on he became more and more oriented to and received all from the tabernacle.  (Cf. Abundantes Divitiae, n. 151-155).         Indeed, the experience of Blessed James Alberione, a “true missionary of the Church” and a modern apostle for our times, is similar to that of the apostle Thomas, who experienced the compassion of the saving and merciful Lord as predilection.

5) /http:\images.smh.com.au\2014\04\18\5359354\1397773991246.jpg-620x349.jpgIranian mother saves son’s killer from hanging, with a slap of mercy and forgiveness: Tehran: An Iranian mother spared the life of her son’s convicted murderer with an emotional slap in the face as he awaited execution with the noose around his neck, a newspaper reported on Thursday. The dramatic climax followed a rare public campaign to save the life of Balal, who at 19 killed another young man, Abdollah Hosseinzadeh, in a street fight with a knife in 2007. Shargh newspaper said police officers led Balal to a public execution site in the northern city of Nowshahr as a large crowd gathered on Tuesday morning. Samereh Alinejad, mother of the victim, who had lost another son in a motorbike accident four years ago, asked the onlookers whether they knew “how difficult it is to live in an empty house”. Advertisement

Balal, black-hooded and standing on a chair before a makeshift gallows, had the noose around his neck when Ms Alinejad approached. She slapped him in the face and removed the rope from his neck, assisted by her husband, Abdolghani Hosseinzadeh, a former professional footballer. “I am a believer. I had a dream in which my son told me that he was at peace and in a good place … After that, all my relatives, even my mother, put pressure on me to pardon the killer,” Ms Alinejad told Shargh. “The murderer was crying, asking for forgiveness. I slapped him in the face. That slap helped to calm me down. Now that I’ve forgiven him, I feel relieved.” Balal said the “slap was the space between revenge and forgiveness”. “I’ve asked my friends not to carry knives … I wish someone had slapped me in the face when I wanted to carry one,” he said. A high-profile campaign was launched by public figures – including popular football commentator and TV show host Adel Ferdosipour and former international footballer Ali Daei – appealing for the victim’s family to forgive the killer. See the video commentary below: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=cwh17osBCNI
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/iranian-mother-saves-sons-killer-from-hanging-with-a-slap-20140418-zqw3f.html#ixzz300Il5O32

6) “Well, then, I will have mercy.” The Emperor Napoleon was moved by a mother’s plea for pardon for her soldier son. However, the Emperor said that since it was the man’s second major offense, justice demanded death. “I do not ask for justice,” implored the mother, “I plead for mercy.” “But,” said the Emperor, “he does not deserve mercy.” “Sir,” cried the mother, “it would not be mercy if he deserved it, and mercy is all I ask for.” The compassion and clarity of the mother’s logic prompted Napoleon to respond, “Well, then, I will have mercy.” The Second Sunday of the Easter season invites us to reflect on God’s infinite love and mercy for His people, as detailed in the Bible and as lived and taught by Jesus, and to practice the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

7) Divine Mercy and Zacharias Moussaoui. Zacharias Moussaoui was sentenced for a role in the devastating 9/11 tragedy. The Frederick News Post (Apr 14: Good Friday) reported it with the headline: “Suspect wishes pain for victims.” Wow. “‘So you would be happy to see 9/11 again,’ the prosecutor asked. Moussaoui said: ‘Every day until we get you.’ He told jurors that he has ‘no regret, no remorse,’ and was disgusted by the heart-rending testimony of victims and relatives and only wished they have suffered more.” Have you read any more tragic thoughts and wishes? When this Chaplain describes the words and actions as objectively “evil,” he means that, objectively, wanting to murder people, and to plague them with more harm and rub it into their lives is an evil thing. Subjectively, perhaps Zacharias Moussaoui is mentally deranged and not totally culpable for his words and actions. We don’t and can’t know this as a literal matter of fact. The question was raised by both defense and prosecution in his sentencing. Point: Mercy is just for such people – the free offer of God, to even the harshest of offenders, like Zacharias Moussaoui, of forgiveness and reconciliation if he chooses to accept it. We need to pray for Moussaoui that he may ask for and receive God’s pardon and love. This man and his sentiments are just one more reason why Jesus came to Earth-to save souls, even the most overtly plagued ones. (Fr. John J. Lombardi) http://www.emmitsburg.net/grotto/father_jack/2006/mercy_sunday.htm

8) Mayor’s mercy: One night in 1935, Fiorello H. La Guardia, Mayor of New York City, showed up at Night Court in the poorest ward of the city. He dismissed the judge for the evening and took over the bench. One case involved an elderly woman who was caught stealing bread to feed her grandchildren.  La Guardia said, “I’ve got to punish you. Ten dollars or ten days in jail.” As he spoke, he threw $10 into his hat.  He then fined everyone in the courtroom 50 cents for living in a city “where an old woman had to steal bread so that her grandchildren should not starve.”  The hat was passed around, and the woman left the courtroom with her fine paid and an additional $47.50.

9) Mary Duray, Connecticut: Mary and her husband suffered the tragic loss of their son, and it was her understanding of Divine Mercy that helped her and her family forgive those that took his life during a robbery. Mary tells us how her attendance at a Mother of Mercy Messengers (MOMM) Divine Mercy Program helped her overcome great obstacles and allowed her to forgive and even to pray for them. Knowing that as long as there is life, there is hope, the family did not seek the death penalty for his murderers. How differently does the person filled with God’s mercy see and react to the world. (http://mercyimages.com/video_MaryDuray.php )

10) “What I don’t know is where I am going.” The story is told about Albert Einstein, the brilliant physicist of Princeton University in the early 20th century. Einstein was traveling from Princeton on a train, and when the conductor came down the aisle to punch the passengers’ tickets, Einstein couldn’t find his. He looked in his vest pocket, he looked in his pants pocket, he looked in his briefcase, but there was no ticket. The conductor was gracious; “Not to worry, Dr. Einstein, I know who you are, we all know who you are, and I’m sure you bought a ticket.” As the conductor moved down the aisle, he looked back and noticed Einstein on his hands and knees, searching under the seat for his ticket. The conductor returned to Einstein; “Dr. Einstein, Dr. Einstein, don’t worry. I know who you are. You don’t need a ticket, I’m sure you bought one.” Einstein arose and said, “Young man, I too know who I am; what I don’t know is where I am going.” And that is the Good News of Easter; that we know where we are going. We have been told by the Savior that his life and death has promised us life eternal. (Steven Molin, Elated….Deflated. Quoted by Fr. Kyala)

11) Ask for Mercy: In order to receive mercy we must ask for it and be ready to accept it. If we do not accept it sincerely we will not change our attitude towards our past life. We read in history that in 1829 George Wilson was condemned to death for robbing the mail and killing the policeman who was on the way to arrest him. President Andrew Jackson granted him a pardon but George Wilson refused to accept it. The judge said ‘Pardon is a pardon only when one accepts it. George must die’. Mercy is mercy when we accept it. We read in the life of Voltaire that he wanted to live six weeks to repent for his sins. The doctor told him he would not live six days. He died unrepentant. Having mercy at his door he refused to accept it. (Elias Dias in Divine Stories for Families; quoted by Fr. Botelho).

12) “The miracle over Hudson River:” A banker on a business trip in New York City, Fred Berretta had just checked into his hotel room. He had about 20 minutes downtime before he had to meet his colleagues. For some reason he decided to clean out his briefcase, something he hadn’t done in a long time. As he emptied it out, he came across a booklet he had stuffed into a pocket years ago on praying the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy. He recalls having prayed it a few times years ago. Only two weeks prior, Fred had made a New Year’s resolution to try to get into better spiritual shape. Here in this hotel room was an opportunity to fulfill it. So he followed along in the booklet and prayed the chaplet, a prayer our Lord gave to St. Maria Faustina Kowalska in the 1930s, during a series of revelations that has sparked the modern Divine Mercy movement. He would be among the 155 people to board a jet airliner at LaGuardia Airport bound for Charlotte, N.C., his hometown. Ninety seconds after takeoff, the jet would apparently hit a flock of geese, the engines would explode, and the plane would lose power at 3,200 feet. The aircraft would be out of reach from any airfield. It would lose thrust and altitude. Everything would become eerily quiet. Fred would cinch his seatbelt. His left hand would clutch the armrest, his heart would race, his face would be flushed. “Prepare for impact,” the pilot would say over the PA system. As the ground surged into view, Fred would look at his watch. It would be 3:30, the Hour of Great Mercy! “I prayed with every fiber of emotion and sincerity I could muster, ‘God, please be merciful to us,'” Fred would recall two weeks later. You’ve probably heard about the crash landing of Flight 1549 in the Hudson River on Jan. 15, 2009. No one was seriously injured. Then, there were the news images of a US Airways Airbus floating gently down the frigid Hudson, like some sort of breaching, people-friendly, aquatic creature. The passengers stood on its wings, calmly awaiting rescue.

13) Seven Secrets of the Eucharist: We might never have learned Fred Berretta’s story if it weren’t for Vinny Flynn. Following the crash, Fred felt compelled to send an email of thanks to Vinny, the former executive editor at the Marian Helpers Center, in Stockbridge, Mass.

Fred had never heard of Vinny until about two hours before he boarded Flight 1549. Following morning meetings on Jan. 15, Fred had found himself in the unusual position of having some free time on a business trip. It was noon. He had stepped inside Manhattan’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral. He had stayed for the 12 p.m. Mass. Afterwards, he had gone into St. Patrick’s gift shop. A book had caught his eye — Vinny’s Seven Secrets of the Eucharist (Mercy Song, Ignatius Press, 2006) — which, with citations from St. Faustina’s Diary, gives a greater understanding of the mystery of the Eucharist. Fred also purchased a St. Michael’s scapular. In an interview with thedivinemercy.org this week, Fred explained what happened next: “I got into a cab and went to the airport [LaGuardia],” he said. “My flight was delayed about 15 minutes, so I sat there and started reading Vinny’s book. I was really taken by it. I boarded the plane and continued to read. Just as we were rolling out for takeoff, I put the book away and closed my eyes and began to reflect on what I had been reading. “Some of us looked at each other,” he said. “There was nothing to be said. I knew that the only thing I could do was pray.” Which is exactly what Fred did when he suddenly realized it was the Hour of Great Mercy and he would probably be dead in a matter of seconds. He trusted, truly, for the first time. All these fragments of thought seemed to piece themselves into place. The plane was going down, yet everything was making sense. He admits he was in shock. But he also felt at peace, a deep peace. God had allowed him to find the Divine Mercy booklet in his briefcase. God had steered him to Vinny’s book. God did all this, he thought, to prepare him for death. He hunched over in his seat to brace for impact. He prayed for God’s mercy. Then he prayed two Hail Marys and one Our Father. He made it halfway though a prayer to St. Michael, the archangel, when the plane hit the water, came to a stop, and bobbed up and down like a toy in a kiddy pool. (http://thedivinemercy.org/news/story.php?NID=3493).

14) “Sir, that is what I am afraid of.” There is a story about a soldier brought before General Robert E. Lee. Accused of misconduct, the soldier was trembling. The general said to him, “Do not be afraid, son. Here you will receive justice.” The soldier looked at the general and said, “Sir that is what I am afraid of.” Like that soldier, Peter would have reason to tremble. Peter had boasted about his bravery, how he would always stand by Jesus. Yet when Jesus needed him most, he nodded off. Perhaps one could forgive him for falling asleep, but later – when he was wide-awake – he denied Jesus. “I do not know the man.” Some rock! In strict justice, Peter should have been punished – at the very least, removed as head of the Church. In Christ’s passion, however, a deeper justice is at work. That is what we will discover this Divine Mercy Sunday. God’s justice has a name – it is called the Divine Mercy. Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil, the Triduum we have just experienced, are the three great days of grace – of Divine Mercy. Now we need to live out the mercies we have received by passing them on to everyone else.

15) Macbeth never had peace in his life: One of the famous tragedies of William Shakespeare is Macbeth. When Macbeth was returning after a victory, he was met by three witches. The first witch greeted him, “Thane of Glamis”. The second witch greeted him “Thane of Cawdor”, and the third witch greeted him, “King hereafter”. As they disappeared messengers reached with the good news that he was appointed as the Thane of Glamis and Thane of Cawdor. Macbeth went home and shared this strange experience with his wife. She enkindled his hopes, and persuaded him to murder Duncan, the king, who came to his house as his guest. As Macbeth thrust the dagger into the heart of Duncan he heard a voice, “Sleep no more! Macbeth does murder sleep…” (II, 2:35-36). Thereafter Macbeth never had peace in his life. His life became miserable. In his frantic attempt to get peace he committed murder again and again. When Macbeth sinned against the king he lost his peace. Jesus was aware that sins destroy the peace of man. So when he wished them “peace” he also granted them the power to destroy sin. To destroy a powerful enemy we need a powerful weapon. Jesus put this weapon in the hands of the Church when communicating to his Apostles the power to forgive sins through the sacrament of Reconciliation. Jesus said to the apostles: “Those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven. Those whose sins you retain, they are retained.” (Fr. Bobby Jose).

16) Uplifting One Another: Have you ever watched geese fly in V-formation? While a thing of beauty to watch, the formation is essential to the geese for survival. If you listen, you can hear the beat of their wings whistling through the air in unison. And that is the secret of their strength: the lead goose cuts a swath through the air resistance, which creates a helping uplift for the birds behind it. In turn their flapping makes it easier for the birds behind them, and so on. Each bird takes its turn at being leader. The tired ones fan out to the edges of the V for a breather, and the rested ones surge towards the point of the V to drive the flock onward. If a goose becomes too exhausted or ill and has to drop out of the flock, it is never abandoned. A stronger member of the flock will follow the failing, weak one to its resting place and wait till the bird is well enough to fly again. Together, cooperating as a flock, geese can fly at 71% longer range, with up to 60% less work. (YouTube: “What geese can teach us about teamwork”; quoted by Fr. Botelho).

17) Cure for Sorrow: There is an old Chinese tale about a woman whose only son died. In her grief, she went to the holy man and said, “What prayers, what magical incantations do you have to bring my son back to life?” Instead of sending her away or reasoning with her, he said to her, “Fetch me a mustard seed from a home that has never known sorrow. We will use it to drive the sorrow out of your life.” The woman went off at once in search of that magical mustard seed. She came first to a splendid mansion, knocked at the door, and said, “I am looking for a home that has never known sorrow. Is this such a place? It is very important to me.” They told her, “You’ve certainly come to the wrong place,” and began to describe all the tragic things that recently had befallen them. The woman said to herself, “Who is better able to help these poor, unfortunate people than I, who have had misfortune of my own?” She stayed to comfort them, then went on in search of a home that had never known sorrow. But wherever she turned, in hovels and in other places, she found one tale after another of sadness and misfortune. She became so involved in ministering to other people’s grief that ultimately she forgot about her quest for the magical mustard seed, never realizing that it had, in fact, driven the sorrow out of her life. (Brian Cavanaugh, The Sower’s Seeds; quoted by Fr. Botelho).

18) Hope for the Flowers: A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then, it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could. So the man decided to help, he took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time. Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly. What the man, in his kindness and haste, did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were God’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon. Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our lives. If God allowed us to go through our lives without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as what we could have been. We could never fly! So God, in His mercy, challenges us giving obstacles in life. (Anonymous; quoted by Fr. Botelho).

19) “Don’t be crying! It’s OK! He is alive!” I remember one occasion when I led a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. One of the young men in the group was quite mentally limited, although his grasp of God, of Jesus, and the events of the Gospel was uncanny. We arrived at the tomb of the basilica, and we joined the long line, waiting our turn to enter. One lady came out of the tomb, and was obviously deeply touched by the experience of her visit to such a sacred spot. She sat down outside the entrance, took out a tissue, and began wiping her tears. My friend, who was back in the line, spotted what was happening, and responded instantly. He ran straight up to her, put his hand on her shoulder and said, “Don’t be crying, it’s OK. He’s alive; don’t you know that?” The whole thing was so spontaneous and genuine that the woman stood up, and gave him a warm hug. The simple fact was that he could not understand how anybody could be crying at this tomb, of all the tombs in the world. — Jesus thanked the Father for giving a message that was so simple and straightforward that the intellectual and the worldly-wise would fail to grasp it, and yet it could be fully accepted by someone with the mind of a child. Happy are they who have not seen yet believe. (Jack McArdle in And that’s the Gospel Truth; quoted by Fr. Botelho).

20) President’s mercy: Years after the death of President Calvin Coolidge, this story came to light. In the early days of his presidency, Coolidge awoke one morning in his hotel room to find a cat burglar going through his pockets. Coolidge spoke up, asking the burglar not to take his watch chain because it contained an engraved charm he wanted to keep. Coolidge then engaged the thief in quiet conversation and discovered he was a college student who had no money to pay his hotel bill or buy a ticket back to campus. Coolidge counted $32 out of his wallet — which he had also persuaded the dazed young man to give back! — declared it to be a loan, and advised the young man to leave the way he had come so as to avoid the Secret Service! (Yes, the loan was paid back.) [Today in the Word (October 8, 1992); quoted by Fr. Kayala.]

21) The story of Oshea Israel and Mary Johnson: One of the stories of the “Forgiveness Project” that caught my attention was the story of Oshea Israel and Mary Johnson.  Oshea had shot and killed Mary’s son – a boy Oshea didn’t even know.  There was no way Oshea could pay Mary back for what he had taken from her.  And Mary owed him nothing.  It’s not an easy story.  As Mary said, “I hated everyone for a while.”  But over time Mary came to forgive Oshea.  She visited him in prison.  She helped him when he was released.  In the process they both changed. Mary gave Oshea the one gift he needed to begin his healing: total forgiveness. Mercy doesn’t undercut justice but surprises it!  It is the linchpin that supports forgiveness and compassion. Mercy is the force that reawakens us to new life and instills in us the courage to look to the future with hope. We might think of mercy as the grace for conversion.  (Stories Seldom Heard; quoted by Sr. Patricia) 

***
From Sermons.com

If I were to mention the names of certain disciples to you and ask you to write down the first word that comes into your mind, it is unlikely you would come up with the same words. If I were to mention the name of Judas many of you would write down the word "betray" but not all of you. If I were to mention Simon Peter, some of you would write down the word "faith," but not all of you. If I were to mention the names of James and John, some of you would write down the phrase "Sons of Thunder," but not all of you. But when I mention the word Thomas, there is little question about the word most everyone would write down. It would be the word doubt. Indeed, so closely have we associated Thomas with this word, that we have coined a phrase to describe him: "Doubting Thomas."

You may be interested to know that in the first three gospels we are told absolutely nothing at all about Thomas. It is in John's Gospel that he emerges as a distinct personality, but even then there are only 155 words about him. There is not a lot about this disciple in the Bible but there is more than one description.

When Jesus turned his face toward Jerusalem the disciples thought that it would be certain death for all of them. Surprisingly, it was Thomas who said: Then let us go so that we may die with him. It was a courageous statement, yet we don't remember him for that. We also fail to point out that in this story of Thomas' doubt we have the one place in the all the Gospels where the Divinity of Christ is bluntly and unequivocally stated. It is interesting, is it not, that the story that gives Thomas his infamous nickname, is the same story that has Thomas making an earth shattering confession of faith? Look at his confession, "My Lord, and my God." Not teacher. Not Lord. Not Messiah. But God! It is the only place where Jesus is called God without qualification of any kind. It is uttered with conviction as if Thomas was simply recognizing a fact, just as 2 + 2 = 4, and the sun is in the sky. You are my Lord and my God! These are certainly not the words of a doubter.

Unfortunately history has remembered him for this scene where the resurrected Christ made an appearance to the disciples in a home in Jerusalem...

 ___________________________
 
One of the fastest growing, most profitable investment ventures in today's economy is . . . . anything having anything to do with security. You couldn't have lost money in the last twenty years if you invested in storage or security: national security, personal security, home security, financial security, Internet security. The dangers of this world seem to be breathing hotter and closer down our necks. Any offering that promises to cool that threat down is welcomed with open arms and wallets.
We gladly invest in "LifeLock" and "Life Alert" and "Alert Life"- hoping to safeguard both our fiscal and physical lives. Instead of scripted shows by the Blue Angels at air-shows, we are sending long-range spontaneous shows of strength in the form of stealth bombers over South Korean airspace, which offends North Korea. We have "apps" on our smartphones that enable us to watch our front doors at home and our backdoors at work, to turn on our lights and turn off our heat, to be on-guard and on-point, even when we are off-site. We are desperately trying to contain the chaos of the cosmos.
In John's gospel, Jesus' first appearance to his disciples is when he comes to them behind closed, locked doors. Despite the vision of the empty tomb, despite the version of the resurrected Jesus Mary Magdalene had reported to them, the disciples were still shuttered and shuddering - clamped down and closed off from a threatening world. Then Jesus blasts through their ADT security system, blows out their "LifeLock," and suddenly stands in their midst...

__________________________
We Know Where We Are Going
The story is told about Albert Einstein, the brilliant physicist of Princeton University in the early 20th century. Einstein was traveling from Princeton on a train, and when the conductor came down the aisle to punch the passengers' tickets, Einstein couldn't find his. He looked in his vest pocket, he looked in his pants pocket, he looked in his briefcase, but there was no ticket. The conductor was gracious; "Not to worry, Dr. Einstein, I know who you are, we all know who you are, and I'm sure you bought a ticket."
As the conductor moved down the aisle, he looked back and noticed Einstein on his hands and knees, searching under the seat for his ticket. The conductor returned to Einstein; "Dr. Einstein, Dr. Einstein, don't worry. I know who you are. You don't need a ticket, I'm sure you bought one." Einstein arose and said "Young man, I too know who I am; what I don't know is where I am going."
And that is the good news of Easter; that we know where we are going. We have been told by the Savior that his life and death has promised us life eternal. And Low Sundays don't change that promise. And unemployment doesn't change that promise. Neither does divorce, or bankruptcy, or cancer, or depression, or felony, or failure. Through elation and deflation and every emotion in between, this truth remains; we know whose we are and we know where we are going, because the Son of God has promised. And this, my friends, is faith.
Steven Molin, Elated....Deflated
________________________________
A New Shalom
When Jesus appeared to the disciples, his greeting was, "Peace be unto you." The Hebrew word shalom, for "peace," is a most comprehensive word, covering the full realm of relationships in daily life and expressing an ideal state of life. The word suggests the fullness of well-being and harmony untouched by ill fortune. The word as a blessing is a prayer for the best that God can give to enable a person to complete one's life with happiness and a natural death. If the concept of shalom became all too casual and light-hearted with no more significance than a passing greeting, Jesus came to give it new meaning. At Bethlehem God announced that peace would come through the gift of God's unique Son. The mission and ministry of our Lord made it quite clear that Jesus had come to introduce the rule of God and to order peace for the world.
Harry N. Huxhold, Which Way To Jesus?, CSS Publishing
____________________________
The Greatest Scar Story
I can think of no better modern-day illustration of the sacrifice Jesus made for us than a recent scar story I heard from a tennis friend of mine. As we were waiting for another match to finish, she was relating how badly her knees hurt. This friend is the most fit 30-something-year-old I know. Yet she sat beside me with a brace on each knee. I pointed to the open hole of her knee brace and asked if her scar was from knee surgery. She told me, "No, it's from my son, and I actually have an identical scar on my other knee."
You see, several years ago she scooped up her toddler son from the swimming pool and began to walk towards a lounge chair. As she stepped onto the tiled patio, her foot slipped on the wet slick surface. She was also seven months pregnant, and it was one of those moments where you feel like you're moving in slow motion but there's nothing you can do to stop the fall. Within a split second, she knew her momentum was toppling her forward, and she could either face-plant and land on top of both her son and her unborn child, or she could fall on her knees.
Of course, as any loving parent would do, she chose to fall on her knees directly onto the unforgiving concrete. Her knees immediately burst open and blood went everywhere. She ended up needing stitches, which resulted in scars, but her son and unborn child were both unscathed. It is hard for me to tell this story without tearing up, because to me, it serves as a miniscule example of the immense sacrifice and love of Jesus Christ for us. You see, we are the beloved children of God for whom Jesus took the fall. Christ suffered on the cross and endured unimaginable pain for us. His is the greatest scar story ever told.
 
Christi O. Brown, Scars of Hope
_________________________
Peace Be With You...It Already Is!
Theologian Karl Barth once remarked that to say the old line from the creed, "I believe in the Holy Catholic Church" does not mean that we believe in the church. It means rather to believe that God is present and at work in the church, that "in this assembly, the work of the Holy Spirit takes place. ... We do not believe in the Church: but we do believe that in this congregation the work of the Holy Spirit becomes an event."
Barth's words rang true for me some years ago, when I was invited by a church in a nearby town to be the worship leader at a special evening communion service. The church staff had planned this service to be educational as well as worshipful. The idea was that, first, the congregation would gather in the sanctuary and I would give a brief talk about the meanings of the Lord's Supper. Then, we would go into the fellowship hall and be seated around tables for the service itself.
At each table there would be the flour and other ingredients to form the dough for the communion loaves. The plan called for each table to prepare a loaf and, while the loaves baked in the ovens of the church kitchen, the people at each table were to engage in various exercises designed to get them talking about their experiences in the faith.
It was a good idea, but like many well-planned events, things looked better on the drawing board than they turned out in reality. There were problems. Children at many tables began to play in the baking ingredients, and white clouds of flour floated around the room coating everybody and everything. There were delays in the kitchen, and the communion bread baked with agonizing slowness. Some of the tables ran out of things to say; children grew weary and fussy; the room was filled with commotion and restlessness. The planners had dreamed of an event of excitement, innovation, peak learning, and moving worship. What happened was noise, exhaustion, and people making the best of a difficult situation. In other words, despite the rosy plans, it was the real church worshipping down there in the church basement.
Finally, the service ended, and, with no little relief, I was able to pronounce the benediction. "The peace of Christ be with you all," I said, and just as I did, a child's voice from somewhere in the room called out strong and true, "It already is."
Just that -- "It already is" -- but with those words the service was transformed into an event of joy and holy mystery. That small voice captured what the Gospel of John is trying to say. In the midst of a church that can claim nothing for itself, a church of noise, confusion, weariness, and even fear, the risen Christ comes to give peace. The peace of Christ be with you? Because the risen Christ comes to inhabit our empty places, then, as the child said, "It already is," and the church with nothing becomes the church with everything.
Thomas G. Long, Whispering The Lyrics, CSS Publishing
_________________________
We Want Proof
 
There is a reason why many Christians around the world have latched so quickly and tenaciously onto the discovery of what may be the ossuary or burial box for James, the brother of Jesus. There's a reason why every time archaeologists discover some inscription referring to King David, Pontius Pilate, or some other biblical figure that this news immediately makes a splash in the pages of Christianity Today. Here, we are told, is further "proof" that the stuff in the Bible really did happen! There's a reason why there is now a huge enterprise that is literally scouring the universe for evidence that the formation of the cosmos required the hand of a Creator God. It's not just that we want to meet evolutionary and atheist scientists on their own turf--most folks also quietly hanker for something tangible that can bolster the confidence they have in their faith.
Over and again we find ourselves wanting more.
Jesus himself knows that faith is both a blessing and a miracle. That's why he says in verse 29 that while it was one thing for Thomas to believe with Jesus standing right in front of him, it would one day be quite another thing to believe without such undeniable physical proof standing in the same room.
Scott Hoezee, "Wanting More"
__________________________
Honey...It's Me
Perhaps you've heard the story of the Yugoslavian judge who was electrocuted when he reached up to turn on the light while standing in the bathtub. No, I'm not cruel or weird, let me tell you the rest of the story. This guy's poor wife found his body sprawled on the bathroom floor. He was pronounced dead and was placed in a preparation room under a crypt in the town cemetery for twenty-four hours before burial.
Well, and this is the part I love, in the middle of the night, the judge came to. The judge looked around at his surroundings and suddenly realized where he was. He got pretty excited and rushed over to alert the guard. But instead of being any help, the guard was terrified and promptly ran off.
Fortunately, though, the guard returned with a friend, and they released the newly-revived judge. The judge's first thought was to phone his wife and reassure her that he really wasn't dead. Unfortunately, he got no farther than, "Honey... it's me," when his wife screamed and fainted.
So, he decided that the best course of action was to enlist some friends. He went to the houses of several friends; but because they all had heard the news from his distraught wife, they all doubted that he was really alive. They were all convinced he was a ghost.

Finally, in a last desperate effort, he contacted a friend in another city who hadn't heard about his death. And that person was able to convince his family and friends that the judge really was alive.
That story almost sounds like one of the Gospel writers could have written it, doesn't it? It sure sounds like the passage from John this morning.
Traditional Story. We have not been able to verify the veracity of this story.

____________________
Watch and You'll See
This story is about three accountants who doubted their three engineer friends. They were traveling by train to a conference. The accountants bought three tickets, but the engineers only bought one. "How are three people going to travel on only one ticket?" an accountant asked.

"Watch and you'll see," said an engineer.
They all boarded the train. The accountants took their seats, but the three engineers crammed into a restroom and closed the door behind them. The train departed the station and soon the conductor came through the car asking for tickets. He knocked on the restroom door and said, "Ticket, please." The door opened a crack and a single arm emerges with a ticket in hand. The conductor took it and moved on.
The accountants agree that this is a rather clever idea so after the conference, they decide to duplicate the engineers' feat. They buy only one ticket, but are astonished when the engineers buy no ticket at all! "How are you going to travel without a ticket?" the accountants ask. Watch and you'll see, reply the engineers.
 
When they boarded the train, the accountants crammed into a restroom with their ticket while the three engineers did the same in a nearby restroom. After the train departed the station, one of the engineers left the restroom and walked over to the restroom where the accountants were hiding. He knocked on the door and said, "Ticket, please."
Author unknown
_________________________
God's Back
It was Saturday, the day before Easter, and Joanne Hinch of Woodland Hills, California was sitting at the kitchen table coloring eggs with her three-year-old son Dan and her two-year-old daughter Debbie. She told her kids about the meaning of Easter and taught them the traditional Easter morning greeting and response, "He is risen...He is risen indeed!" The children planned to surprise their Dad, a Presbyterian minister, with that greeting as soon as he awoke the next morning. Easter arrived, little Danheard his father stirring about in his bedroom, so the boy got up quickly, dashed down the hall and shouted the good news: "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, God's back!"
David E. Leininger, "Laugh, Thomas, Laugh!"
__________________________
Ants in The Pants of Faith
Whether your faith is that there is a God or that there is not a God, if you don't have any doubts you are either kidding yourself or asleep. Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving.
Frederick Buechner
____________________________
End In Certainties
If a man will begin in certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.
Francis Bacon, Advancement of Learning (1605)1.v.8. (London: Oxford University Press, 1951), 41.
____________________________
Just Because We Can't See It
A junior high school teacher was telling her class about evolution and how the way everything in the world was formed proved that God doesn't exist. She said, "Look out the window. You can't see God, can you?" The kids shook their heads. "Look around you in this room. You can't see God, can you?" The kids shook their heads. "Then our logical conclusion is that God doesn't exist, does He?" she asked at last, certain that she had won her audience over.
But one girl from the back of the classroom said, "Miss Smith, just because we can't see it doesn't mean it doesn't exist...