Sunday, 19th April 2020: Sunday Mass by Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna from the Church of St Francis of Assisi, Ħamrun …
Homily by Archbishop Charles Jude Scicluna
“Bring your hand and put it in my side and do not be unbelieving but believe” (Jn 20: 27). These words were addressed by Jesus to Thomas a week after Easter. Thomas had insisted that he had to have evidence of the identity of Jesus and of his resurrection. In fact he insisted with the disciples of Jesus: “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe” (Jn 20:25).
His reaction is quite similar to so many reactions we have. We need to see evidence, we need to see proof, we need to be able to experiment otherwise we will not believe, otherwise something is not true if it is not subject to verification or experimentation. And that is a valid criteria for the natural sciences as we all know.
The Lord is inviting us to truth which is not against the natural sciences but goes beyond. He takes on the challenge of Thomas and invites him: “Bring your hand and put it into my side” (Jn 20:27). This is something the Lord is inviting us to do on this Divine Mercy Sunday. That pierced side of the Lord is what John the Apostle saw on Calvary. He says: “Water and blood came gushing from the pierced side of Our Lord”.
And as we know from the image of Divine Mercy, that font of water and blood according to John Chrysostom, one of the great Fathers of the Church, is the mystical sign of the sacraments of the Church. We bath in the water at Baptism and we are nourished by the Blood of Jesus gushing from his pierced side.
“Bring you hand and put it into my side” is an invitation to be in communion, in intimacy with Jesus. It is an invitation to drink from the font of cleanliness that he offers us in the sacraments of Baptism and Reconciliation. It is an invitation to drink from the mystical blood, his blood that we receive at the Eucharist. It is an invitation to be one with him.
“Do not be unbelieving but believe” (Jn 20:27). Today we look at Jesus risen with his pierced side and with Thomas bring our hand and put it into the side of Jesus. Alas, in these very strange and peculiar circumstances we cannot receive communion as we would like to. At communion today I will invite you to participate through spiritual communion.
People ask me: ‘Where can I go for confession to receive the mercy of Jesus?’ And as the Church teaches, I remind them that in these very difficult circumstances, it is very important that we ask forgiveness for our sins and also promise to go to confession as soon as the chance is given us, as we can and that is enough to receive the forgiveness for our sins.
The sins of weakness, the venial sins as we call them, that we commit so often every day, are forgiven through our charity, through our prayer, through our spiritual communion today. And we look at Jesus who gives peace to his disciples: “Peace be with you” (Jn 20:26). At his resurrection he gives his Church the power to forgive our sins: “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven, whose sins you retain are retained” (Mt 16:19).
And as we thank the Lord for his everlasting mercy we also join the Church in Psalm 118 as we remind ourselves that his mercy endures forever (Ps 118:3).
✠ Charles J. Scicluna
Archbishop of Malta
Reading I: Prov: 21, 1-8
Psalm: 33 (32) 1-2, 5-6, 10-12, 20, 22
Gospel: Lk: 12, 42-48