By The Reverend Monsignor Harry Entwistle
Sunday 8 April, 2018
Preached at St Ninians & St Chads Parish, Perth
St Paul’s Catholic Church, Mt Lawley
When Jesus appeared to his disciples after his Resurrection, they tended not to recognise him until he said or did something familiar. He spoke a name, broke bread with them or as we have just heard in the gospel reading, he extended a greeting of peace. It was the moment of recognition of the risen Jesus that triggers, peace, joy and faith in him.
Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances assures his followers that he is the same person who was crucified and once their faith is restored, he was able to commission them as his agents in the world. A Christian agent represents Jesus. He or she is the person through whom Jesus is able to make his presence felt and through whom the good news of salvation told. As Jesus is the agent of his Father, so each Christian disciple is an agent of Jesus. “As the Father has sent me, so I send you” (Jn 20:21).
In that Upper Room, Jesus commissions his disciple by breathing on them. The Hebrew word ‘ruach’ is translated as breath, wind and spirit. At creation God’s spirit moved over the chaos and brought order; God created Adam from the dust of the earth and breathed into him to give him life (Gen 2:7), In Ezekiel’s vision of the Valley of Dry Bones, the bones came together but did not live until the wind blew and brought them life
Thomas wasn’t present on Easter Day when this took place so he found it difficult to believe what the others told him. He wanted to be able to recognise the risen Jesus before he would believe.
A week later Jesus appeared again and invited Thomas to touch his wounds. Jesus did not berate Thomas for doubting, but invited him to see for himself and believe. Thomas did because he could see, hear and touch the risen Jesus, but Jesus blessed those who were faithful because they recognised him through the word and ministry of his agents in the Church.
During the resurrection appearances, Jesus did not condemn the apostles for not believing the women about his resurrection, or Peter for his betrayal and Thomas for his doubt. He reached out to them with love and mercy so they would be strengthened and enable others to recognise the risen Jesus in their lives.
Today’s readings show how God reaches out to us inviting us to love him so that we can enable others to recognise Jesus in their lives. Last week a man from the Torres Strait clicked into the Ordinariate F/Bk page. Under his profile picture was written, “My personality is who I am, but my attitude depends on who you are.” Today is known as Divine Mercy Sunday because the readings reveal that God’s mercy is the loving acceptance of others despite their sins.
In the Divine Mercy image revealed to Sr Faustina, white and red rays of light stream from the loving heart of Jesus. St John’s passion story and today’s epistle refer to water and blood flowing from the crucified Jesus’ side. Water and blood refer to many things including the waters of baptism and the blood of Jesus’ sacrifice. At the offertory of the Mass, the priests pours a little water into the wine at the offertory, so ensuring that what is consecrated is the water and wine of our salvation.
Our mission is to be faithful agents of Christ. It is to be people of the resurrection, standing firm in the faith contained in the creeds of the Church. We are to hold, live and teach this faith. This is who we are. It is whether the way we live reflects who we are, that will determine whether the love and mercy of Jesus can be recognised in us by those who stand in our presence. If so, they may come to recognise him in their own lives.
Monsignor Entwistle is the first Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross. Educated at St Chad's Theological College, he was ordained a priest in the Church of England Diocese of Blackburn in 1964. After reception into the Roman Catholic Church, he was ordained to the priesthood in St Mary's Cathedral, Perth on 15 June 2012.