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 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.

Divine Mercy Sunday: Mercy for Doubters

Bless me Father for I have sinned.  Father, I have horrible doubts.  Sometimes, I wonder if God exists.  Sometimes, I think that He’s not concerned about me.  Sometimes, I wonder if He cares about the people in the world. If He exists, and if He cares, then why do horrendous things happen?”   These and similar questions confronts everyone.  Doubting is one of the weights of the human condition.  There is a part of us that wants to posit the physical world as the only life that exists.  There is a part of us that questions the spiritual world.

A frantic father had brought his son to Jesus’ disciples to be healed.  The poor boy was having seizures.  “What is happening here?” Jesus asked. The man told him about his son, and then added, “I brought him to your disciples, but they couldn’t do anything.  If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” Jesus retorted, “If I can?” All things are possible to him who believes.” And then the man cried out, “I do believe, help my unbelief.”  And Jesus heals the boy.

Help my unbelief.” That’s a prayer that we have to say whenever doubts assail us.  Whether we question God’s concern, we question the Church’s teaching, or even if we question God’s existence.  Thomas, the world class doubter of today’s Gospel, had seen the miracles Jesus had performed.  More than that, Thomas and the other apostles had also worked miracles in the Name of Jesus, and yet, he still doubted.  Maybe Thomas was so shocked by the Crucifixion, that he lost hope in the Resurrection. It seems that his faith was at a very low point at that moment.

What a scene in that Upper Room the Sunday after Easter!  Thomas the doubter had said that he wouldn’t believe, unless he touched wounded hands of Jesus and put his hands in His pierced side.  And then Jesus appeared. He told Thomas to do what he said he needed to do to believe. And Thomas exclaimed, “My Lord and My God.”  It is at that point that Jesus looked at Thomas and said, “You believe because you have seen,” and then Jesus looked at us, people through the ages, you and me, and said, “Blessed are those who have not seen but who believe.”

He sees our fears.  He hears our questions.  He knows how we often struggle with doubts, and he has mercy on us, just as he had mercy on Thomas.  If he did not hold Thomas’ doubts against him, Thomas who had experienced so much of the Lord’s presence, so many wonders, if he did not hold Thomas’ doubts against him, he will not hold our doubts against us. 

This Sunday is Divine Mercy Sunday.  Look at the picture of the Divine Mercy.  Look at the Lord risen, with the tomb behind Him and white and red beams flowing from His side, and then read carefully what is under the picture: Jesus, I trust in you. St. Peter says that in the war against evil our ancient enemy, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.  He tells us to be strong in faith and stand up to him. We cannot let Satan’s temporary victories turn the tide in the war for God’s Kingdom. On Divine Mercy Sunday let us pray:  “Jesus we trust in you.”

Fr. Tom