Acts of the Apostles 5:12-16
Many signs and wonders were done among the people at the hands of the apostles. They were all together in Solomon’s portico. None of the others dared to join them, but the people esteemed them. Yet more than ever, believers in the Lord, great numbers of men and women, were added to them. Thus they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and mats so that when Peter came by, at least his shadow might fall on one or another of them. A large number of people from the towns in the vicinity of Jerusalem also gathered, bringing the sick and those disturbed by unclean spirits, and they were all cured.
Revelation 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19
I, John, your brother, who share with you the distress, the kingdom, and the endurance we have in Jesus, found myself on the island called Patmos because I proclaimed God’s word and gave testimony to Jesus. I was caught up in spirit on the Lord’s day and heard behind me a voice as loud as a trumpet, which said, “Write on a scroll what you see.” Then I turned to see whose voice it was that spoke to me, and when I turned, I saw seven gold lampstands and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, wearing an ankle-length robe, with a gold sash around his chest. When I caught sight of him, I fell down at his feet as though dead. He touched me with his right hand and said, “Do not be afraid. I am the first and the last, the one who lives. Once I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever. I hold the keys to death and the netherworld. Write down, therefore, what you have seen, and what is happening, and what will happen afterwards.”
Gospel Cycle Cycle C
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.
This Sunday is traditionally called by several names: Low Sunday, the Second Sunday of Easter, Thomas Sunday, the Octave of Easter, Sunday in White, Quasimodo Sunday or Divine Mercy Sunday. Each of these names focuses on one aspect of what is being celebrated today.
The name of the Second Sunday of Easter is easy to understand if we consider Easter itself the First Sunday of Easter. The name of the Octave of Easter is also easy to understand if we count, starting with Easter Sunday and ending with this Sunday. That would give us eight days and that is what the Octave means. In the understanding of the Church, an octave is really celebrating the same reality for eight days, counting it as only one Great Day. This happens because some solemnities are so important that it really takes at least a week to celebrate them properly. For Easter, the whole 50 days of Easter (from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday) are an attempt to celebrate the mystery of the Resurrection, which is the one mystery which can explain everything else about following the Lord Jesus.
The name of Thomas Sunday is also easy to understand because always we have the Gospel telling us about Saint Thomas on this Sunday. This Gospel explains the doubts of Saint Thomas and is also teaching us that we can have doubts and God will still love us and try to draw us to Himself. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe is for some believers. Saint Thomas is a model for another kind of believer.
Low Sunday could refer to the fact that we are at the end of the first week of Easter and life is returning a bit to normal. It could also be a contraction of the Latin word, Laudes, praise, and refer simply to the fact that even a week after Easter Sunday, we are still giving praise to the Lord, referring to the first word of a Sequence which was formerly used on this day Laudes Salvatori voce modulemur.
Sunday in White (Dominica in albis) seems to take its name from the newly baptised having worn white robes all week and on this Sunday they finally take them off after this celebration.
Quasimodo Sunday simply refers to the first word of the Entrance Antiphon (in Latin). In the past, many people knew all of the entrance antiphons for each Sunday throughout the entire year and would refer to a Sunday by the first word or words of the entrance antiphon for that particular Sunday; such as, Laetare Sunday, Gaudete Sunday, Resurrexi Sunday, etc.
For us who celebrate this Holy Mass today, the important focus is generally on the meaning of the Scripture readings. Thus the name of Thomas Sunday seems most apt to many today. Many today, however, are drawn to the devotion to Divine Mercy, and so see this Sunday in the light of that devotion. This still can be seen in the Gospel referring to Saint Thomas, since Christ Himself shows Divine Mercy to Thomas in today’s Gospel account. It is also God’s Divine Mercy that draws us into the Church as in the reading from the Acts of the Apostles. It is Divine Mercy that allows us, as in the second reading from the Book of Revelation, to recognize Jesus Christ in our world today.
So we continue to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ as our Divine Mercy and are drawn to recognize that our Lord loves us over and over, forgiving our doubts, strengthening us in faith, drawing us into His Church and revealing Himself to us. Let us thank the Lord for His mercy and love.