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Friday, 5 April 2013

Reflection/Homily: Second (2nd) Sunday of Easter/Divine Mercy Sunday 2013

Reflection/Homily: Second (2nd) Sunday of Easter/Divine Mercy Sunday 2013

Theme: Pragmatic Christianity
 Pragmatism is an ideology that evaluates theories or beliefs in terms of the success of their practical application. For instance, a pragmatist will only believe that one is a good cook not when one describes the process of preparing a particular dish but when one actually prepares it well.

Pragmatism has permeated every sector of our society and religion has not been spared. In times past, people believed a man of God by the authority with which he spoke, but today, by the signs and wonders he perform. The world wants every theory to be practiced and proved effective before it is accepted.

In the first reading (Acts 5:12-16), we can actually say that God was pragmatic in His relationship with the early Christians. The reading records that so many signs and wonders were worked among the people at the hands of the apostles. These signs and wonders were to confirm in pragmatic terms the restoration and deliverance the resurrection of Christ brought. With the signs and wonders, people came to believe in their message not because they heard but because the saw.

In the gospel reading (Jn. 20:19-31), we see Thomas as a core pragmatist. He did not believe in reasoning but in experience. He never wanted to listen to the event of Christ’s resurrection and appearance but wanted to experience it. He needed a first-hand experience which he got and believed.

In our religious practices, many of us are like Thomas. We want God to show us everything, to reveal every mystery to us before we believe. We want to see the Eucharist turn into empirical flesh and blood. We want to see a candidate for anointing of the sick rise up immediately after receiving the sacrament. We want God’s blessings and promises to materialize immediately, etc.

But have we ever cared to compare our expectation from God and God’s expectations from us? We expect God to be pragmatic, to be practical, but are we also pragmatic in our relationship with God? Can our religious doctrines and beliefs be seen practically in our lives? When we talk of forgiveness can we be seen forgiving those who offend us? When we talk of chastity, can it be confirmed with our life style? Is the communion we claim to have among ourselves pragmatic? Is our love for each other real?

Beloved brethren, within this period of Easter and beyond, the Church exhorts us to witness to the gospel of Christ’s resurrection not just by mere proclamation by mouth but by our actions. Our emphasis should not just be on orthodoxy (correct belief) but also on orthopraxy (correct action). We are invited to partake fully in the mercy God is offering His people. This mercy does not only provoke contrition for our sins but also repentance. Our actions should depict triumph of good over evil just as Christ triumphed over death. We don’t have to go back to those things we abandoned during lent.

To make us more conscious of this mercy, the Church calls today “Divine Mercy” Sunday to enable us celebrate the mercy of God which called us out of darkness. The Church still reminds us of the inexhaustibility of God’s mercy. This mercy confirms our hope in God. John in the second reading (Revelation 1:9-13; 17-19) reminds us of this hope with his vision in the Island of Patmos. Though persecutions may come our way as we try to put our Christian beliefs into action, God is always there for us. He says “Do not be afraid” because He hold the keys of death and the underworld.

Therefore, let us be courageous to live out our faith in love, charity and hope so that in our lives people will witness the resurrected Christ. For those who are backsliding in faith because some believers do not show up their faith in actions, Jesus exhorts us today: “blessed are those who do not see but believe”. Do not be discouraged rather put up the actions that others will see and believe that Christ is risen and that he remains the Lord. God loves you. 

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