Homily for the Second Sunday of Easter
“Peace be with you.” This was the greeting of Jesus to his apostles on his first appearance after he has risen from the dead. After that, his disciples were first astonished at seeing him. Then he greeted them again, “Peace be with you”.
From the very beginning, this is what Jesus brought to this world. Even though he died in a very violent way, that didn’t distract Jesus from what he wanted to give to all of us and that is Peace. Peace of course, is not just the mere absence of war or violence. The peace that Jesus gives is a sense of assurance that whatever happens to us, we know that there’s a loving God who is there for us in everything. Even if in our surroundings, peace seems to be elusive, as long as we entrust ourselves to God, peace will still come to our hearts.
Nothing can describe this better than what we’re experiencing at the moment. While levels of crime and violence are down in general because most people are inside houses and the police are very vigilant in ensuring that everybody is complying with the rules of social distancing and not going out unless it is totally necessary, there are a lot of people whose hearts are very far from being peaceful. There are a lot of worries about their jobs, their health and their loved ones whom they can’t visit personally.
This brings us to the point of Thomas doubting the appearance of Jesus to the disciples because for some reason he wasn’t there during that night when Jesus appeared. Even when the disciples tried to convinced him, Thomas remained unmoved and even dared to say that unless he could see the holes that the nails made in his hand and put his finger into the holes they made and unless he could put his hands to his side, he would refuse to believe.
Are we like that sometimes? Even if our closest friends tell us something, we refuse to believe unless we have experienced it ourselves? What we are experiencing at the moment is no different. With the COVID-19 pandemic upon us, how many of us have asked, “Where is God in all of this?” Why did God allow such a terrible pandemic to happen to us and the whole world where millions are infected, thousands have lost their lives and countless millions are suffering because of this pandemic. Yet, the gospel for today assures us that we must not doubt. When Jesus appeared again after eight days and this time Thomas was there. Jesus invited Thomas to put his finger on his hands and his hand on his side and told him do not doubt anymore but believe. Thomas replied with this profession of faith, “My Lord and my God!”
Of course, many of us have thought about the bad things that this pandemic has brought to us like the loss of lives, loss of jobs, uncertainty with so many things that makes our lives so uneasy and many more things that have made us doubt whether God really cares for us. Yet, while so many questions remain unanswered, we have to be assured that God is with us. Whenever we see “front liners” like the doctors, nurses, various medical personnel who are working so hard to bring back to health those who have fallen ill because of COVID 19; Whenever we see shop keepers, supermarket personnel, pharmacists and their staff working so hard and risking their lives so that all of us would have food, medicine and other essential needs for us to live; Whenever we see how social media and other technologies are used to keep all of us connected despite the need for us all to stay at home; Whenever we see how teachers and school staff try to keep their schools open to help our children educated, and many more examples of sacrifice, I sincerely believe that God is with them in all of these.
So let us receive the peace of Christ that Jesus has offered and paid for by his life. There may be times that there’s doubt especially when we are faced by challenges like this COVID 19 pandemic. Yet, we are asked by Jesus himself to “doubt no longer but believe”. So, the tougher the times, the more we should believe because the peace of Christ will conquer every difficulty that life can throw at us and make us stronger and more thankful to know that whatever happens, Jesus is Emmanuel, “God is with us”.