Thomas placing his finger into the wounds of Jesus
[Scripture Readings for Mass: I: Acts 2:42-47; Psalm: Ps 118:2-4,,13-15,22-24; II: I Peter 1:3-9; Gospel: John 20:19-31]
” 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!” ~ John 20:26-28
These words from the Gospel of John give us one of the most profound illustrations and lesson of Jesus, the doubting of humanity and the Divine Mercy of God that resolves our doubts, if we will share the journey of the lesson.
The designs of the Holy Spirit are majestically clear on this Sunday following the joy of Easter. As we continue, in the Church, to celebrate Christ’s conquest of sin and death we come, these seven days later to this celebration of His resurrection mercy. It is the mercy-drenched wisdom of God’s Spirit that recognizes how difficult our Easter celebrations are as we daily live and confront our realities of human nature. That first Easter the disciples were crippled in uncertainty and doubt. They could not see the eternal reality of the Risen Christ in the fog of the reality of their human reason and weakness. They all also struggled with their guilt, not trusting, not understanding the One they had called Lord. Peter in particular, was bound by chains of doubt and remorse with his three-fold denial of Jesus the night of His arrest. And as it was with the followers of Jesus then, so it is with His followers today.
This holy season of Easter, 2020, is especially bizarre. Never has the entire world been battling a pandemic of such scope. Never has the world been faced with economic upheaval of such depth as it battles this illness that destroys the basic ability to simply breath. The scope of these tribulations are, for the faithful, intensified as the ancient practices of worship, community and support are under lockdown. And it is vital to understand that even with those who may not share faith as we would, that their lives are just as difficult, yet without the hope and assurance of faith, however perplexed it may be.
But again the fore-wisdom of the Holy Spirit in majestic compassion brings us the lesson for this time. God recognizes our struggles, our perils. God knows that many struggle for life itself. God knows that many face hunger that have never known such need before in their life. God does know and God is grieved. And God also knows that for so many, even many who profess to follow Christ, that their faith has been strong. But not in Christ. For the faith of many has been placed in the gifts of God, instead of God the Provider. Tragically, for many their faith is deeply rooted in…THINGS so they stockpile whatever they think they may need. Or invested, alone, in science, technology and medicine as the savior for these troubled times, failing to recognize those gifts and disciplines are given by God for the good of all, not for the good of profit and power of the few. Or their faith is in politics, in politicians, blindly trusting those who spew key words that will resolve their discernment without the help of God’s Holy Spirit. And even for many who take great pride in their religion or their spirituality but disallowing any faith, any liturgy, different from their own. Indeed God does know and is grieved this season of Easter, 2020. And God sends the message, promise, power and hope of His divine, resurrection mercy rooted in the blood stained soil of the the Cross. For as God knows God also sees beyond our sin to souls redeemed, set free…healed.
It is in the poignant story of doubting Thomas and Jesus we are given the way of God’s mercy that calls each of us, by name. The risen Christ had appeared to the women who came to the grave. Jesus appeared as well to the disciples always assuring and sharing His peace, His mercy. Yet at the meeting with the disciples Thomas was unable to attend. So when he hears of Jesus coming to them he responds. Thomas, ever pragmatic, honest, guileless, states that unless he sees the wounds in the hands and feet of Jesus, unless he sees and can place his fingers into the wound in the side of Jesus he would not believe. [It is profoundly important that we, like Thomas, share our doubts, needs with God. But we, like Thomas, must be prepared and willing to allow God to answer!]. A week later Jesus again appears to His followers. This time Thomas is present. Jesus calls him, by name, to come to Him, doubts, fears, human reason..wounds and all, “Thomas, Come”! Jesus calls and as Thomas comes engulfed in longing, doubt, fear, hope he sees Jesus opening His robe. Thomas sees the wound in the side of Jesus…an open scar of love that will never quit. Jesus gently tells his friend, I sense smiling deep in His heart, to place his fingers in His side…..and Believe. The response of Thomas shares so much…”My Lord and my God”!
We all would do well to quietly read and listen to God’s voice proclaimed in the Scriptures this day. But especially in the story of Thomas we are given holy seeds of mercy and hope that will not fail.
We must allow ourselves to enter into the wounds of mercy of Jesus. As Thomas, wounded, struggling, came to Jesus he placed his fingers into God’s wounds. So it is with us when, in the Spirit, we hear Jesus calling us each by name. We come to Him. Let us each place our fearful, wounded lives deep into the wounds of our Savior. Has our journey been one of painful wandering and woundedness? Let us place our wounds of our journey into His feet who came seeking for us. Is our work, our life crippled by the circumstances of all that is happening? Let us, in faith come, and place in the hands of him who embraced, yes hammer and wood, but even more, the lost and rejected and in those scars made by the nails find our peace and healing…find God’s mercy. Is our heart a mess of uncertainty, exhaustion, loneliness or doubt? Like Thomas let us listen as Jesus call us, by name, knowing all that is in our heart and come to Him whose heart was pierced by hate’s cruel spear. And in whose heart we find our home of holy, majestic eternal love.
This Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday, we gather, in spirit, to allow the many past feasts of Christ’s Eucharistic Presence to sustain us and nourish the hope of mercy that will gather us at His table once again. And we gather to allow Christ to call us each, individually, together, to Him and in His mercy be made whole. And to share in the ways God will bring, the mercy and peace of Christ that is greater than any need, disease or sin.