Dominica in Albis in Octava Paschæ [Sunday in White/Low Sunday]/Divine Mercy Sunday: April 28, 2019
Delivered by Most Reverend Roger LaRade, O.F.A.
Beloved Disciple Eucharistic Catholic Church - Toronto
1 John 5, 4 - 10; John 20, 19 - 31.
“My Lord and my God!”
Eight days ago we gathered to celebrate the feast of Easter, the greatest feast of the Christian year. Throughout the week, the Church has presented us in the Gospel reading at daily Mass the different post-Resurrection apparitions of Christ. We are there for six of these apparitions.1 On Monday we were with the disciples from Emmaus who finally recognized Jesus in the breaking of bread after not having recognized him while he joined them and talked with them on their journey. On Tuesday, the apostles and the disciples “touched” Jesus and ate with Him on the first Easter evening. Jesus appeared to us on Wednesday on the shores of the Lake of Genesareth when He invited the seven apostles to a meal of fish and bread. On Thursday, we were with Mary Magdalene “who with love and longing sought and found her Saviour.”2 And then, on Friday, we were in the crowd of disciples and we saw the Risen Christ on the mountain in His last apparition. Christ tells us, “I am with you all days…” Today, we are at the sixth apparition, with the Apostles, and more particularly, with Thomas. Today, we are called to touch the Risen Christ and, with Thomas, to also say, “My Lord and my God!”
Liturgically, this Sunday is known as Dominica in albis, that is, the Sunday in white. This name comes from the early Church when those who had been baptized at the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday, wore all through the Octave of Easter the white garment with which they had been robed at their Baptism; going to Mass on each of the eight days in procession, wearing the white garment. Their visibility throughout the Octave “was a living sermon reminding all that as Christians they had risen with Christ to a new life on Easter.”3 It was on the Saturday after Easter, that is, yesterday, that they took off their white garments and put them in the church’s wardrobe. On the following day, the First Sunday after Easter – today – they attended Mass for the first time in their ordinary clothes, a sign of being full members of the Church.
This tradition is quite important to our understanding the message of Easter for us today. From the Vigil Mass on Holy Saturday at which the Baptisms happen to the daily Masses of the Octave of Easter, the liturgical celebrations of the Easter season focus our faith on the core elements of our belief: the Resurrection of Christ and our Baptism into that Mystery. These two elements of our faith as Christians are inextricably bond together. A commentator, in fact, has written that “the second complements the first, while the first is the symbol and cause of the second.”4 We can see Baptism, our Baptism, as the Resurrection of Jesus in our soul. Indeed, Baptism marks us as followers of Christ, as Christians, as believers in His Resurrection, as sharers in His Resurrection. This Baptism forms in us, in an ongoing way, the desire to proclaim the Risen Christ as “My Lord and my God!”
As Jesus calls Thomas to touch Him, to touch His wounds, so too Jesus calls each one of us to touch him and to confess Him as “My Lord and my God!” The Church’s focus on the apparitions of the Risen Christ during this Octave are meant to cultivate in us a deeper sense of the Resurrection and of the Risen Christ’s continuing presence in and among us; so close, in fact, that we can touch Him. This we can do in our private prayer, in our meditation and contemplation. This we can do in our communal prayer. This we can do in our daily encounters with the people with whom we live and work.
But, this we do especially in the Mass. For it is in the Mass, in our reception of the Body of Christ, that we can most intimately touch the Risen Christ. The infant faith we professed at our Baptism needs to be nurtured in the encounter with the Risen Christ at every Mass. It is in receiving the Body of Christ at Communion that we touch His wounds. In so doing, we bring our own wounds to Him, attach them to Him and He in return attaches Himself to us, taking our wounds into the wounds of His resurrected body.
The faith which we receive at Baptism as infants grows through our bringing our woundedness to the Risen Christ as He becomes present at Mass. Here, as the bread and wine are brought to the altar, we bring also the stuff which makes up our lives, and in particular that which is painful to bear, that which may make it difficult to believe. Here, as the Risen Christ continues His apparitions, He calls us to touch and see, and to believe in the power of His resurrected presence in our lives.
On this day, let us reaffirm our faith in the abiding presence of the Risen Christ in His Church, and together, let us confess, “My Lord and my God!”
1 See Dr. Pius Parsch, The Church’s Year of Grace, Volume 3: Easter to Pentecost (1963: The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN), p. 3.
2 Ibid., p. 3.
3 Ibid., p. 50.
4 Ibid., p. 2
Et qui vidit, testimónium perhíbuit
for Easter 2019
1. Et qui vidit, testimónium perhíbuit: et verum est testimónium ejus. Et ille scit, quia vera dicit: ut et vos credátis. He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth. (John 19: 35)
2. We hear these words of St. John, the Beloved Disciple, in the liturgy of Good Friday. They come at the end of his account of the Passion of Jesus. This is St. John, the Beloved Disciple, the one who stands with the mother of Jesus at the foot of the Cross. St. John therefore gives us his eyewitness account.
3. St. John tells us the reason for his testimony: “so that you also may believe”.
4. But, believe what? That Jesus died on the cross? If that was so, then the Gospels would end with this death on the cross. But, the Gospels do not end here. The Gospels continue beyond the Crucifixion and Death of Jesus. The Gospels testify to His Resurrection, His appearances, His Ascension, and beyond.
5. St. John gives us the answer my question in the last line of his Gospel: “these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in His Name” (John 20: 31).
6. It is this belief that we proclaim every Easter. It is this belief that we proclaim at every celebration of the Eucharist. It is this belief that we proclaim every time we act with love and understanding. It is this belief that roots and sustains us in our Christian discipleship.
7. And we are called like St. John to testify to this belief. As Christians every action we take, every thought we express proclaims our belief in Jesus as the Messiah, as the Risen Son of God. Or at least it should. And, we should be conscious that this is so. Our actions and our words either proclaim the love of God offered us through Jesus the Christ, or our actions and our words are a counter-witness to this belief.
8. The truth of the belief in Jesus as the Messiah, as the Son of God, is His Resurrection. Are we living witnesses to the Resurrection? Or do we testify that either the Resurrection is not true or that it has had no lasting effect?
9. As Catholics we venerate the saints as people who have been witnesses to the truth of the Resurrection. We also take the saints as models in living our faith. Each of the saints in his or her own way testified to the belief in Jesus as the Messiah, as the Risen Son of God. And, in so doing, they had “life in His Name”. One of these is St. John, the one who saw and believed, and had life in His Name.
10. We also have seen. Through our participation in the liturgy of the Church we see the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus. We see; we are witnesses. And, in seeing we are called to belief, and we are sustained in this belief. And we are called to testify in our own way. We are called to testify so that others may also believe. We make our testimony with every action we take, and every thought we express.
11. Let us pray that, like St. John, the Beloved Disciple, our testimony in word and action may be true.
Given this 21th day of April, Easter Sunday, in the Year of Our Lord 2019, the fourteenth of my episcopate, at Toronto, Ontario.
Most Reverend J. Roger LaRade, O.F.A.
Église Catholique Eucharistique-Eucharistic Catholic Church
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