Divine Mercy Sunday
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 HolySpirit. 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 nail marks 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 Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, Thomas touched the wounds in your hands and side, and saw that it was really you—you had really conquered death! I reach out with the “hands” of my faith and I repeat Thomas’ words: My Lord and my God! I truly believe that you are risen and present in the Eucharist. I place all my hope in your Resurrection. Because you are risen, I can believe in your pardon and I can trust in your grace. I love you because by your Cross and Death you redeemed me from sin, and by your Resurrection you gave me new life in you. Your Mercy is forever!
Petition: Let me always trust in your mercy, never place my hope in anything else, and never despair in my efforts to change and live according to the new life you have given me in Baptism.
1. "Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed." The faith of the entire Church hinges on the faith of the apostles. It was their prerogative to be witnesses of Christ’s resurrection. They are the ones who can tell us that the Risen One really is the same Jesus as lived among us and died for us. They touched him, saw him for themselves, watched him eat and they knew for a fact that he was real and not a ghost. Our faith is different. At first it may seem poorer since it lacks the human corroboration of the senses that the apostles had, but in reality that makes it even more wonderful, more marvelous, more “incredible”. The apostles themselves must have marveled at the power of faith when they brought the message of Christ to distant places; there they witnessed for themselves the miracle of those people who never saw Christ in the flesh accepting him through their teaching, being baptized and receiving the outpouring of God’s mercy made present in Christ. And these people would believe and be faithful even to martyrdom. It is truly a great blessing to receive from God the gift of believing without seeing. What an enormous gift! What amazing power, to be able to say to the Risen Christ when he becomes present at Mass, My Lord and my God!, and to be able to adore him in the Eucharist.
2. "Peace be with you." The peace that is experienced through true faith is truly remarkable. Thomas was in turmoil. He loved Jesus, he would have liked more than anything for him to be alive but he had seen him die on the cross and he knew he couldn’t have it both ways, a dead Jesus who was still alive. What the other apostles told him only added to his confusion. What had happened to them? Had they not seen the same as he? Why couldn’t they accept that Jesus was dead? If they were being deceived by a ghost of their imagination or an imposter, Thomas knew the answer: Look for the wounds. Thomas’ turmoil was extreme. He would have wanted nothing more than for Jesus to be alive, but he knew that couldn’t be. Confusion enters our heart and soul when we place conditions on God’s action and power, when we keep him at a distance, when we place conditions on our faith and set limits on what we are willing to allow him to do. Then, his suffering and death, the suffering and persecution of his body the Church, our personal trials and sufferings make no sense and cause us only turmoil. Christ has pity on us in our weakness, in his mercy toward us he comes with a message of peace, which begins with our accepting him into our lives, on his conditions, ready to be taught by him. Christ brings light, Christ brings peace.
3. The doors were locked. The doors were locked for fear of the Jews. The apostles were afraid the same would happen to them as happened to Jesus. Peter had told Jesus, Even if I have to die with you I will not abandon you, yet here we have him hiding behind barred doors. How humiliating it must have been for him to discover he was so weak. He knew he had denied Jesus. He knew he had broken his promises. He felt wretched, and possibly was tempted to think there was no hope for him. If it weren’t for Jesus’ mercy and power, the barrier to keep out the Jews might also have kept Jesus out. Jesus’ mercy is effective because it is the mercy of God, who is all-powerful. The gates of hell shall not prevail against his Church, his Kingdom. And the gates of hell are also the barriers of our lack of faith, our lack of trust, our lack of hope, our false humility that degenerates into despair and refuses to let his pardon and mercy enter our lives. The power of God’s mercy is such that he walks through these barriers and places his mercy within our grasp. After he has come in through the locked doors of the room, the apostles had to open to him the locked doors of their fears to let his mercy in. Let us open our hearts to the pardon and peace Christ offers us in his mercy.
Conversation: Lord Jesus, amid the many distractions and temptations I face in my daily life, grant me an increase in faith to recognize your presence and to discover what you want of me. Help me to live a true and lively faith in your presence and pardon. Make me a source of peace and hope for all I will meet today. You died and are risen for me, Alleluia.
1. How would I rate my faith in Christ’s presence in the Eucharist and at Mass?
2. Does my faith bring peace into my life? What is my attitude towards the many crosses, large and small, that I encounter in my life?
3. What are the doors in my life that are still barred to God’s mercy? What is keeping me from a relationship with Christ that is full of trust and self-giving?